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Anna-Wendy Music FFC001

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in Scotland is based over several colleges around the region, one of which is the Lews Castle College in Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. For several years now, this campus has been honing the skills of some fine traditional musicians, and at the helm has been fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson (founder member of Fine Friday and niece of harpist Savoura Stevenson).

Far Flung Corners is a collaborative project between Anna-Wendy, Simon Bradley and several music students from the Lews Castle College course and two Dorset musicians, Alex Roberts and Dan Somogyi. It is inspired by the “connections and differences, past and present, of landscape, culture and language within the British Isles.” After several exchange trips and various showcase performances of the resulting material, this CD appears as a record of the collaboration.

There are several tracks from Anna-Wendy Stevenson’s Suite Uist – a traditional-sounding collection written to celebrate 15 years of courses in Benbecula; there are three songs performed by Alex Roberts, alongside Matt McGinn’s The Rolling Hills O’ The Borders sung by Mabel Duncan; and there are a few spoken word tracks, to atmospheric instrumental backing. The standard of musicianship is extremely high throughout, and the pieces from Suite Uist are particularly good, with some stirring marches and the ‘diddled’ Udal Waulking Song being amongst the best tracks. Elsewhere Alex Roberts puts a new tune to William Barnes’ Linden Lea giving it a more modern twist, and Dan Somogyi’s shimmering piano forms the basis of the final track, Road To Eriskay, which he wrote with Simon Bradley as the recording session came to a close.

The whole album is well-recorded and presented in an eye-catching sleeve, whose two faces display the landscapes of Macacleit Beach in North Uist and Poole Harbour in Dorset – fitting images for this well thought-out and pleasant collaboration.

Michael White

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.