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Private Label CG2020CD 

Ten tracks of original music by Highland pipe, whistle and piano player Chris from Lockerbie, who is a recent graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, a piper with Inveraray & District Pipe Band and an experienced performer, teacher and composer.

This album, which has been skilfully produced, arranged and recorded, features Chris with a fine array of supporting musicians including the likes of Graham MacKenzie on fiddle, Innes White on guitars, Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Mohsen Amini on concertina. It has a full band sound, where the combination of the fiddle and whistle/pipes works particularly well, and the sweet mandolin playing of Laura-Beth stands out in particular.

The gentle opening of Argyll Bound is mildly reminiscent of bands like Flook, and as the album develops you can hear hints of this continuing, particularly when the tunes are whistle-based with more unusual time signatures. High Voltage, which Chris describes as a tune with an “electric nature”, starts off as a good driving pipe reel aided by Mohsen’s concertina, Graham’s fiddle and the whole ‘band’, before heading off down some different rhythmic paths – typical of a lot of modern Scottish compositions these days. Ironically, perhaps my favourite tune here is Lockerbie Academy’s Welcome To Thawale Primary School, a tune Chris wrote while still at school – in traditional jig-time form, and the first appearance of the big pipes on the recording.

There is very fine musicianship on display here – no doubt. And the tunes are technically accomplished and cleverly put together. But at times, for me at least, some of them lacked memorability, and I wonder if many of them will stand the test of time. I found myself wishing for some more familiar material, some of the big tunes even, because played by this lot, that really would be something.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine