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HADDO - Borderlands

HADDO - Borderlands
Lulubug Records LULUBUG002

Borderlands is a very satisfying second album from a young Anglo-Scottish husband-and-wife team. Will Pound is an acclaimed harmonica player, but this duo is a platform for his quickly developing skills on melodeon. For Nicky it’s an opportunity to use her viola, fiddle and voice to reconnect with her Scottish roots at the same time as continuing to explore the English tradition. They show the instinctive understanding you would expect, with Nicky taking most of the melody lines and Will weaving round them.

Most of the dozen tracks on this 44-minute CD are pure pleasure, packed with life, lusciousness and clever dynamics. My purist gene couldn’t cope with the swing version of Old Tom Of Oxford; and Nicky’s voice on Two Sisters and Will Ye No Come Back Again is too highly pitched for my taste, but otherwise it was thumbs up all the way. English tunes include the dramatically arranged Ampleforth from the longsword tradition; Orange In Bloom from Cotswold morris; and Halsway Carol, a lovely arrangement of Nigel Eaton’s tune. From Scotland comes Duncan Chisholm’s Farley Bridge and John McCusker’s Frank’s Reel. In Two Williams, they cover tunes by La Bottine Souriante and, rather wonderfully, William Nyssens - one of Nicky’s pupils who wrote it as part of his GCSE coursework. The duo’s own compositions are of the highest quality. Nicky wrote Midama to celebrate the purchase of the houseboat where they live on Oxfordshire’s canals, while Earl Of Newham seems to draw on her classical training at London’s Royal Academy of Music where she specialised in baroque viola.

Will finally whips out his harmonica part way through the closing Spootiskerry, written by Shetland fiddle player Ian Burns. Mouthie music isn’t for everyone, and not really for me, so I’m delighted he’s extended his range.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.