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FARA - Cross The Line

FARA - Cross The Line
Fara Music FARA001

Cross The Line is the debut album from Fara, an all-female quartet from Scotland whose line up has three fiddles, viola, piano and vocals. Jennifer Austin, Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price are all commendable talents and their combined efforts yield rich rewards.

The Dragon, the opening set, places the cards on the table - rich sonorous triple fiddle attack, like prime time early Altan, and vamping Cape Breton style piano together hit the eardrums while the other tunes in the set twist and turn like young snakes creeping around the listener’s allure and tossing them into a brood of swirling cadences. It’s not all bluster though, as Shapinsay opens quietly and slowly, drawing from Chamber styles, merging into a lovely slow march treatment of a polka played in a fashion as unpolkalike as possible. It slides neatly into Fisher’s Hornpipe and the guns blaze quickly into syncopated action. It sounds like they have fun with their music and this sense of adventure gives Cross The Line a surprisingly diverse and provocative edge.

Vocally, Jeana Leslie handles lead vocals on Three Fishers and My Heart’s In The Highlands, and the combined fiddles of Kristan and Catriona with Jeana provide a full-bodied ensemble sound on a brightly arranged take on Whisky You’re The Devil. The rich deep fiddle/piano intro to Jeremy And Regina’s nails the Scottish fiddle styles to the mast before some jazzy nuances seep in and then the all-out fiddle fever of Bright Grey makes a stirring climax. That’s one noticeable thing about Fara’s sound and approach; while theirs is a traditionally based package, they never play it straight down the middle - there is always some little shot of incredulity in their jazz dives and classical swoops that makes their sets different and enticing. Cross The Line is a surprising and delightful package of tunes played with a devilish grin and a commendable grasp of excitement and group dynamics. Lend it your ears.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.