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WENDY WEATHERBY "Two Loves" Lochshore, 2002 KRL CDLDL1312

When my cousin took up the cello I had grave doubts as to whether it was a musical instrument or not! Some years later I came across Fred Katz playing cello in the Chico Hamilton Quintet and I changed my mind. Katz had made it part of modern jazz and now - for me anyway - Wendy Weatherby has done the same for traditional music. I had caught snippets of Wendy's music over the years but this was the first time I had sat down and listened to her uninterrupted. What a joy it has been and what a lot I have missed in the 20 years since Wendy graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Her pedigree is impeccable, having worked and recorded with Billy Jackson, Carol Laula, Mairi MacInnes, Savourna Stevenson, Andy Shanks and Jim Russell to mention just a few. Her film, theatre and television appearances also add strength to her bow.

Two Loves is - almost - a solo album and follows on from the excellent A Breath on the Cold Glass, previously reviewed in The Living Tradition. I say 'almost' as Wendy is ably supported by James Ross on piano and accordion, and Stevie Lawrence on guitar and just about everything else!

The CD opens with an over-dubbed cello 'quartet' playing Bonny at Morn as an introduction to the song. Not only is Wendy a superb instrumentalist but she can also sing with great feeling. She sings the song unaccompanied before reintroducing the cello. Wandering Willie is another unaccompanied track throughout, with double tracked vocal harmonies. The highlight of the CD for me is the singing of Cruel Mother intertwined with James Ross on piano playing Hamish Moore's Round Dawn. The depth of feeling between voice and piano suit the song perfectly. Church on Sunday skips along with guitar and piano with Wendy playing the title track - Two Loves - as instrumental and how well it works. The final song on the CD is John Tam's Hold Back the Tide from Bill Bryden's epic venture 'The Ship' performed at the Harland and Wolff engine shed in Govan. Wendy actually performed in this production some 13 years ago. The song leads into Phil Cunningham's tune The Ruby.

Now to the purely instrumentals, of which there are eight;

The Hybrid Set is an exciting set of reels with the cello, piano, concertina and percussion, all blending beautifully giving just the right amount of light and shade. Duplin House is a slow air from the Niel Gow collection. The piano and cello capture the impression of the 'big hoose'. Temple Locks is a fast reel written by Stevie Lawrence (who doesn't even play on the track!). Wendy and James slow the reel down with great effect, which show off this beautiful tune.

Cannongate Breeks is a set of three jigs by Wendy, which would have anyone dancing down the High Street after a gill or two on a Saturday night. Bobbin John is a showcase for Stevie's small pipes. After the slow air the cello and piano join along with some multi-tracking by Stevie building to an exciting crescendo. Poppies from the Somme brought back poignant memories to me after visiting the battlefields last year. Wendy evokes the horrendous futility of war in her tune for the lads who didn't come home. Laughter in the Gallery, a Strathspey played on the solo cello, disappointed me a little. I feel that John or Stevie joining in would have put the 'laughter' into the tune. Whistle o'er the Lave o't, this Burns' song and final tune in the collection, is a vehicle for James' piano with Wendy's embellishments. If Scotland can lay claim to 'the blues' this is it - a moving piece.

The more I listened to this CD the more I was captivated. Since the release of Wendy's CD A Breath on the Cold Glass she has gone from strength to strength. You must go out and listen - and buy - Two Loves. You won't be disappointed.

Andrew Webster

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.