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Waulk Music WAULK09

This young duo’s debut release presents 12 sets of instrumental music combining original pieces with composed and traditional material, mainly from Brittany and Ireland, beautifully arranged and played with an entirely convincing sensibility for those traditions and richly redolent with their several stylings.

Principally using silver flute and guitar as their lead instruments, Freya also plays whistles and clarinet and Louis contributes, too, some bouzouki, tenor banjo, tenor guitar and bodhrán. Subtly featured family guests are Eryn Rae (fiddle), Paul Rae (tambura) and Griselda Sanderson (nyckelharpa), who provide telling additional qualities to the tonal range and dimensions of the music.

Skilfully combining jigs, reels, hornpipes, waltzes, several Breton dance tunes and a Danish hopsa, there is an assured freshness in movement, balance and dynamic variation. The graceful, classically ambient, Freya’s Waltz and Farewell Monty, deploying tenor guitar tracked with e-bowed harmonic drones, provide delightful gentle interludes. The latter leads into Guitar Hornpipes where Chris Newman’s imbued wisdom is audibly apparent. Louis’ playing uses the full dynamic potentialities of the instrument - crisply flat-picked delicate patterns in the higher trebly register, chunkily deep bass frequencies, and all in between.

The symbiotic interweaving of the airily filigreed flute lines with the rhythmic and melodic abilities of the fretted instruments is often mesmeric, foot-tapping and dance inducing, emotively stirring and moving in equal degrees, and it is satisfying to have the clarinet in these settings too. Amply and appropriately curlicued to accomplished effect and what feels like disarming ease, this is exquisite musicianship.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.