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THE DUPLETS - Leverage

THE DUPLETS - Leverage
Pond Chicken Music CHIK002

Scottish harpists Gillian Fleetwood and Fraya Thomsen present a second album of songs and tune sets. Unlike their 2008 debut release Tree Of Strings, which had contributions from several renowned musicians, here they are simply together, with their voices and two early 20th century Dalriada harps (made by Henry Briggs) loaned to them by the Friends of Highland Music.

Recorded with a good dynamic sound range, from light and bright trebly melodies to warm and sonorous bass frequencies, the harps are delightful. Using space and pace, the interplay of the instruments is well thought out combining chordal and rhythmic backdrops with cleanly executed melody lines and some nice filigree detail including harmonics. Devotees of Mary Macmaster and Patsy Seddon’s Sileas will find much to please and there are echoes of great Breton players.

There’s a pleasing symbiosis too in the way they combine their slightly breathy and delicate voices, inflected with Scottish idioms, on three of their own songs. One of these, about the volcanic island Surtsey, illustrates well their ability to use the harps to powerful and captivating rhythmic effect. There is also a song by Kenny Reid along with tunes by Paul Roche, Jim Sutherland, and Andy Thorburn (‘supporter and mentor’) and their own new tunes and traditional rearrangements.

With a high profile in Scotland, festival experience across Europe and the relatively rare combination of duo harping in conjunction with their appealing vocal and evident writing skills, their future is surely as bright as their soundscapes. Perhaps they might consider some electro-harp in future further to extend the spectrum of their gently contemporary sound?

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.