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VARIOUS ARTISTS "Celtic Spirit" Lochshore CDLDS 7002

The subtitle, 'a selection of beautiful Celtic airs featuring some of Scotland's leading folk artists', cannot but fill the reviewer with foreboding. How many times have we encountered those compilations with similar titles and similar packaging (presumably intended to ensnare the undiscriminating tourist) which claim to offer a flavour of Caledonia but on investigation serve up the blandest of pap, unfit for consumption other than by the musically illiterate?

The Lochshore management can put away whatever may be the email equivalent of a vitriol-filled pen, though; this really is a cut above that category, as indeed it should be with the likes of Cythara and The Iron Horse involved. It's basically a showcase for Lochshore artists, which means that the information about the individuals is limited in the extreme and that there is no indication of who plays what on a particular track. Arguably, I should know this, and I do in some instances. In others, however, I don't, and I suspect that many coming to this album will do so in a similar state of ignorance.

Not that it matters much, I guess. If you're taken with a particular track, you can easily obtain the CD, which includes it, since catalogue number and title are both helpfully provided? The recording quality is of a uniformly high standard and the tracks mesh together surprisingly well. Celtic Spirit is easy on the ear yet musically respectable. A real taste of Scotland, you might say.

Dave Tuxford

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