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MALINKY - "Last Leaves" - Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX190

Malinky are an Edinburgh based band who take their name from the children's rhyme "Skinny Malinky Lang Legs" (although the version I know is a bit more puerile than the one on the album cover!). "Last Leaves" is their first album and for it to be on a label like Greentrax is an indication of their swift progress. Malinky are largely song-based (with vocalists Karine Polwart and Steve Byrne) but they also have a fine collection of tunes from the bow of Kit Patterson and whistles of Mark Dunlop. The songs are sung with great sensitivity and they are quite diverse in origin with the English, "The Light Dragoon", the Macedonian "Dimna Juda" and a great Scottish selection all rubbing shoulders.

Karine Polwart's fine voice is right in front from the start of the album with her own song "Whaur Dae ye Lie" and this is carried right through, particularly in "The Bonnie Lass O' Fyvie" and "Strathmartine Braes" where they make great use of both voices in the band. Their treatment of "The Light Dragoon" is also worth a listen since the temptation to sing in an accent that is not their own has been avoided. It's also nice to see a young band risk credibility by tackling a song intimately associated with the Corries and written by Roy Williamson - "The Hills of Ardmorn". It was and is a fine song and well worth singing. Many songs are teamed up with tunes both well known (Banish Misfortune) and not so well known (Bill Harte's Jig) and all are played with great enthusiasm and energy. The tune sets also stand up well and are backed up by some very fine Guitar/ Bouzouki/ Cittern playing.

This is a great album and should appeal to any singer, Scottish or otherwise and would also make a great addition to the collection of tune-players everywhere.

Paul Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 38 of The Living Tradition magazine.