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Private Label BFCD2015

Four fiddles front this true all-star band, with an occasional fifth. Backed by guitar and keyboards, together they deliver smoking hot dance tunes and delightful slow airs. Their repertoire is mostly Scottish - favourites old and new - with forays into Irish, Scandinavian and North American music. Take the first three tracks. Blazin' fiddler Jenna Reid's jaunty Shetland Night In London, a waltz but probably not what you expect, is followed by Irish boxer Alan Kelly's polka The Trip To Dingle, another touch of the unexpected. Arran Ceilidh is a reel by Ross Kennedy and ends a set which also includes the traditional Irish, Killarney Boys Of Pleasure and guitarist Anna Massie's, Bacon Allocation. Not her actual allocation, you understand - I'm not sure any CD could contain that - but as a band member Anna was honour bound to write a tune for auction at the annual Blazin' In Beauly summer school, and the buyer chose this tasty title.

The third track on North is a total change of pace and another Reid composition. Gamekeeper's Cottage is a beautiful melody with shifting rhythms. Keyboards player Angus Lyon composed the slow air, Taigh Sia, and William Marshall wrote Java some 200 years earlier, but both deserve their place here as moments of calm between the storm of reels and jigs. Troy's Wedding, Gingerhog's Number 2, Uist Dance, Pat The Budgie, Road To Recovery and the honky-tonk Inside-Out Fish Eater are just some of the treats on offer. Orkney fiddler Kristan Harvey wrote Braehead Cottage for a house close to her home, and it tops off a trio of big jigs. Bruce MacGregor's strathspey The Cambridge Caravan Catastrophe starts the final big set, yet another band composition. The only member of Blazin' Fiddles whom I haven't mentioned is fiddler Rua MacMillan: I can't find a reason to get his name into this review, so I'll have to owe him one! He must be doing something right, as the sound on North is far bigger than any quintet. Definitely worth a listen. 

Alex Monaghan

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