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Summers is at the forefront of Scottish traditional fiddle music, Scandinavian and Finnish folk, and experimental violin performance and composition. This mix is well represented on Owerset, a recording of original music written by Sarah-Jane for Celtic Connections. In total contrast to her 2017 release, Solo, this album is packed full of large-scale arrangements and at times the fiddle disappears altogether. Trumpet, accordion, guitars and bass perform pieces ranging from folk rock to gypsy jazz, hard-core Scottish to Swedish polskas, led mostly by Ms Summers along with her fiddle partner Bridget Marsden. The inspiration for this loose suite comes from words in Old Norse which have found their way into Scots or Gaelic over the centuries since the Viking invasions of Scotland more than a thousand years ago. Flit, Rowk, Handfasting, Blether, Skegg, Greet and Owerset itself are commonly used in Scots and can all be traced back to Norse roots.

Gate is of course from the Old Norse for a street, and this piece evokes tramping feet with its regular striding rhythm, quite a rapid gait in fact, more like soldiers or dancers than casual passers-by. Rowk is a word for mist, or something between mist and fog, originally also meaning smoke: its wispy, insubstantial melody matches this sense, curling and stretching, eventually dissipating. The title track is particularly interesting: actually two tracks, the first is a Swedish polska played the traditional way, and the second is a translation of the same melody to a more contemporary setting. Owerset is full of such surprises. The performance is superb throughout, of course: Hayden Powell on trumpet, Leif Ottosson on accordion, Juhani Silvola and Morten Kvam on guitars and bass, and the two lady fiddlers are all masters of their art. Owerset is a feast of great music, with something for any fan of folk traditions. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.