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CANTRIP "Silver" CD SR1717

It's getting so that you can almost take for granted major instrumental proficiency among the influx of younger musicians into folk music. If the baseline becomes what would have been regarded years ago as a standard that marked a band out from the crowd, then the problem for newer bands is how they are to be distinguishable from the rest in a way that makes people single them out as one of their favourite.

Cantrip are a youngish band who impressed me a few years ago in live performance, and on the evidence of this have grown musically, become more assured, more polished with a noticeable increased rapport between the five musicians in the line-up. What else do they have going for them? Well the old sergeant majors' instruction to the troops to show "Bags of swank", could be a description of how they handle certain of their livelier numbers, and the fact that they can write no mean tunes, as evinced by the opening set of three, particularly "Whiskey Garlic Fried Rice" stand them in good stead. In addition to versions of the perhaps expected Scottish and Irish tunes there are lovingly rendered Basque, Swedish and Finnish tunes on offer. Where the album departs from the merely good and storms its way right to the front of inventiveness stamping a thrilling display of ability is on guitarist/bouzouki player Cammy Robson's "All the seasons in a day/Sets a dish Cloot". I'd have no difficulty picking out his playing from a range of other bands, and little difficulty in listening to more of this calibre - - whilst many are happy to listen to instrumentals and many bands are obviously happy to play them, I felt a song or two would have broken up this unrelieved set which runs well over 50 minutes.

Clearly a group with abilities, it'll be interesting to see what they do with them next. Oh, and a parting comment - whoever wrote the sleeve notes displays a level of wit that is genuinely amusing, without sign of strain.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.