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Fine Friday "Gone Dancing" Foot Stompin' CDFSR1715

Fine Friday are an impressive new trio on this consistently good label, with a line-up comprising Kris Drever, guitar, bass and vocals; Nuala Kennedy, flute, whistle and vocals; and Anna - Wendy Stevenson, fiddle. They bring a collective lightness of touch and sparkling vitality to their music which makes the whole ensemble very listenable indeed.

Five of the thirteen tracks are songs, ranging from traditional numbers to Boo Hewardine's Hummingbird and Steve Tilston's Slip Jigs and Reels. These serve as a vehicle for Kris' lightish and pleasing voice, which copes admirably with the different styles. As for the tune sets, it often seemed that there was more than a trio at work here - not in the sense of overcluttered or multi-tracked, but in the sheer texture of the instrumentation.

The guitar and bass lay down intricately picked lines which the fiddle, flute and whistle pick up on then interweave with a seamlessness that belies the players' youth. This gives a delicate shade to the music, allowing all of the instruments to be picked out, whilst allowing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

Having said that, the arrangements are tasteful and sensitive enough to ensure that the tune doesn't get lost, as can happen with some other groups. This is truly a combination of elegance, grace and finesse. The music that they play draws on a wide range, from Scandinavia to Brittany, but chiefly from Scotland and Ireland, with a good proportion of self-penned numbers.

It's hard to select any track as better than any other, but listening to the two sets The Cuckoo and Rock'n'Troll give a good microcosmic picture of the intricacies you can expect throughout. The whole production, by Ian Carr, is a great example of effective packaging of talent to showcase their skills and their potential, as a group with this degree of musical understanding of each other will surely become very well known indeed.

Fine, very fine.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.