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REAL TIME "Hell & High Water" Big Sky Records BIG SKY 116

This is a cute effort from a very hard working team working the clubs and bigger venues around Europe and beyond. Occasionally pedestrian arrangements are lifted to a higher plane by the judicious musicianship of Iain Anderson, champion fiddler of note, and subtle attack that belies his twenty-five years. Judy Dinning's voice is confident and polished, although the narrow vocal range of the chosen songs doesn't exactly stretch her. This is a particularly 'safe' album. Songs and tunes that are well played in, and delivered with sometimes bland precision. I love their version of the late Isaac Guillory's Ship in the Window - an unusual arrangement of a song that I have never encountered anyone else cover, and would have made the master himself rightfully proud. Another killer track is Joni Mitchell's Carey (although the arrangement is so close to the original that it doesn't exactly demonstrate much originality - but full marks for imitation). Having seen the trio version of Real Time live last week I felt able to put this album in proper context (and this probably explains why the Barrowburn Reel set remains my favourite, as this brought the house down live and is gleamingly brilliant here also). I would have preferred to have more comprehensive sleeve notes, though. I mean, who produced it? Maybe it's a secret -shame, because they deserve brownie points whoever they are.


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This album was reviewed in Issue 57 of The Living Tradition magazine.