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Private Label BFCD2017

No change in line-up for this iconic group in their 20th year: album number eight features fiddlers Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Kristan Harvey and Rua Macmillan, bouncily backed by Angus Lyon on piano and quondam fiddler Anna Massie on guitar. That extra layer of keys and chords gives the Blazers an even wider sound spectrum than fiddle-only groups such as Rant and Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, and this comes across in big band numbers such as the opening Lerwick Lasses, Bruce MacGregor's composition, The Highlander's Revenge, and the final stomping Violet Tulloch's Hornpipe. There's quite a strong Northern Isles flavour on The Key, not surprising with Jenna's Shetland heritage and Kristan's Orkney style: tunes by Tom Anderson, Ivan Drever and Debbie Scott are added to traditional stalwarts. Less predictable is the handful of Cape Breton tunes here: Dan R MacDonald and adopted Cape Bretoner, Jerry Holland, contribute three fine reels including Mutt's Favourite which is a definite highlight of this album. Annie's Waltz is another stand-out track, written by Bruce and beautifully played by him. Rua's solo is more up tempo, a bravura performance of three challenging pieces: Mr Michie by Angus Fitchet, The Beeswing by fiercely Scottish Tynesider James Hill, and the traditional reel, The Merrymaking. Anna Massie abandons her trusty guitar for a set which starts with a Scottish take on the Nina Simone hit, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, and shows just what can be done with five fiddles! After some fine compositions by band members and other young Scottish musicians, The Key ends with a delicious romp through the Alasdair Fraser classic, Harris Dance, a high-energy finale to this fine CD. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.