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LAUREN MacCOLL - Strewn with Ribbons

Strewn with Ribbons
Private Label MBR2CD

For her second recording, this BBC award-winning highland fiddler has gone back to early 19th century manuscripts for most of the material. There are six of Lauren's own compositions here, but the rest come from four recently republished collections of East Highlands music. Anyone who thinks there are no great old tunes left to discover should revise their opinion after hearing this CD: forgotten reels, strathspeys, airs and jigs come alive in Lauren's hands. There's that same sweetness of fiddle tone which has always been her hallmark, and a supremely delicate touch on the bow, backed by Barry Reid's guitar and Mhairi Hall on keyboards. If Lauren MacColl's debut recording was a revelation, this follow-up CD underlines her growing reputation as one of today's finest fiddlers.

It's hard to think of a better young slow air player than Lauren. Inspired by Aly Bain, she has the same firm but gentle control, the same emphasis on tone and tunefulness. Oigfhear a'Chuil Duinn opens this album, the first of five haunting airs here: two from Gaelic songs, two fiddle laments, and Lauren's own Honesty, named for the plant. There are a couple of charming dance tunes played at almost slow-air speed too: Fair an' Lucky and Hard to the Bone, both instant winners. Lauren picks up the pace on other melodies, but never loses her assured touch. William's Love and Miss Nicholson are fine driving reels, Mr Sinclair Younger and Strathbogie have that characteristic North-East bounce, and there's plenty of snap in the strathspeys and jigs too. I'll definitely put Strewn with Ribbons on my 2009 top ten list!

There's more I could mention, but you can find out all about this beautifully presented CD at including samples and mail-order.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.