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Ian F. Benzie "I'se the B'y" Lochshore CDLDL1307

One of the great pleasures of traditional music and song is the individual nature of its performers. In a day and age of conformity, and major record companies becoming increasingly less than keen to take risks with anything that genuinely sounds different or challenging. A release such as "I'se the B'y" is all the more gratifying. Rod Patterson, Dick Gaughan, and Karine Polwart have all proved in their own way that there's a healthy and thriving interest in songs expressed in the Scots vernacular.

Of course I didn't understand many of the lyrics behind the songs. Ian's thick Northeast delivery, often bordering the Doric language saw to that. However it didn't seem important as I listened to the CD. If you ask a mountaineer why they bother climbing a particular peak? They'll often answer 'because it's there', and I think it's that attitude which led to much of the material being chosen for this CD. The very fact that Ian's album exists at all makes it special. Although "I's the B'y" is ostensibly a traditional album, it's not without a contemporary edge. "Gi'e Me A Lass Wi' a Lump O' Land" includes a jazz groove that Dave Brubeck would be proud, and underrated Northeast percussionist Davy Cattanach gives many of the songs a touch of much needed urgency. Whilst the contemporary side of the album may be welcome; it's down to the simpler moments to really tug at the heartstrings. I would challenge anyone not to have a few spine tingles at 2.27 into "Bogies Bonnie Bell", as Carol Anderson's delicate fiddle takes up the melody.

With so many commercial considerations given to the release of any album these days it's a real pleasure to hear this CD. Why listen to "I'se the B'y" ? …Because it's there.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 47 of The Living Tradition magazine.