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Bridgegate Music BMCD007 

This is Linsey Aitken and Ken Campbell’s second album and it covers many genres and styles. Coming together when Aitken joined the re-formed The Ideal Band in 2010, a band that once hovered around the cutting edge of the Scottish music folk scene in the mid-eighties, this new album from the duo features many self-penned songs and instrumentals. They tour often in the USA and it is to this audience that much of the material is possibly aimed.

Linsey Aitken is a powerful and sensitive cello player and it blends well in the mix. Ken’s distinctive vocal and instrumental prowess make this an album where the songs grow on you with successive listens. The lead track, Come On In, sets the pace - a singalong ‘anthem for Scotland’ which will no doubt be well-received at live shows. At the other end of the musical spectrum is cello led Italian classical/traditional piece Da Aristo written by Aitken - which evokes hot moody Barga in Tuscany - and medieval period piece, Adieu France. So Far From Here is a strong track about emigration written by, and featuring, Linsey on vocals. The strongest instrumental track is the powerful Miss Mackie Frae Perth by Aiken and featuring cello and evocative Northumbrian pipes from Campbell. The traditional song, The Hills Are Clad In Purple, features pipes playing in unison with cello. There’s a real variety of styles here and inevitably a couple of tracks sound like fillers - it would be hard to cover the country-esque singalong Jean Ritchie song, See That Rainbow Shine, without it sounding like pastiche.

The album features a lovely cameo appearance by Ada Chau, great-granddaughter of Ken’s parents who wrote the song, Clydeside, in 1940, and who plays piano on said-same track. Overall, some strong instrumentals and songs mixed with some exceptional playing.

John Carnie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.