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THE SAVAGE PRUNES - Straight Line Talking

THE SAVAGE PRUNES - Straight Line Talking
Private Label

A little short at only half an hour, the debut CD from this new young trio playing Anglo-French music is definitely worth a listen. And on the bright side, it won't take you long! Each of the seven tracks here is a new composition by the band - most of them by piper Callum Armstrong - with an elaborate arrangement that goes well beyond the average folk strumming and percussion. The melody is swapped between woodwind and strings, with harmonies on fiddle and cello, and rhythm coming from some unexpected sources. This is still unusual in English and Irish music, certainly, but it's been going on in Scottish, North American and French bands for quite some time. Consider the 1990s recordings by Dédale, or the work of La Bottine Souriante from Quebec, or the fiddle and cello renaissance led by Fraser and Haas. Fiddler John-Francis Goodacre isn't quite at Alasdair Fraser's level, despite his excellent Goodacre Brothers lineage, and George Pa?ca couldn't pass for Natalie Haas even in high heels and a dress, but musically the comparisons are enlightening. The bagpipe melody on Nicolaus Copernicus is underpinned by some quite complex cello, and the final I Stood Still starts with some very Sacchettini-like recorder. Goodacre shines on Parquet Number 3 with a rhythmic Fraser-like introduction, while Borderline shares the tune more evenly among all three instruments despite the pipes dominating in the mix. The simplicity of Pont Neuf is very appealing, especially in contrast to Callum's impersonation of a reversing Tesco lorry. The opening Hamish The Hellhound drives on like one of those complex Blowzabella pieces involving hatfuls of purple spaghetti. This music is not easy to split into tunes: pull at any one of the many threads and it simply unravels, but their intertwining does create a tapestry, or at least a spider web, sticky enough to hold you for a while.

Alex Monaghan

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