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Fellside Recordings FECD275

Of all the bright young men making their way on the folk scene, few have made as rapid progress as these two. For this, their third album (they were still at school when they recorded their first, four years ago) they have gone for a fuller sound, with bass, percussion, pipes and a spot of help on vocals. That means that the duo you hear on this CD is not quite the one that has been cutting a triumphant swathe through the clubs and other venues. It runs the risk of diluting or over-complicating what they do; but in fact, it does nothing of the sort.

Their core – the strong yet flexible singing of Greg Russell and the wonderfully imaginative and lyrical fiddle of Ciaran Algar – remains the same. The difference lies in giving the songs and tunes a little more room to breathe. The fiddle tunes – The Tide and The Intruder - are particularly atmospheric delights, whilst Brisk Young Man shows off Greg's mighty voice – remarkable in such a young man - to better effect than ever.

Like all the other duos with whom they have been compared (Carthy and Swarbrick, The Dransfields - no pressure there then) there is a near-telepathic link between them that tells them how to get the best out of each other. You get that from them live, but you also get it on CD. With its eye-catching packaging and its instant jolt of excitement, there is cross-over potential here.

Russell and Algar are destined for very big things. In that context, there is something reassuring about the closing track, Pete Coe's Rolling Down The Ryburn, with its celebration of the folk musician's lifestyle and of their own roots in the music. This album demonstrates how to keep in contact with those roots whilst still expanding your musical vocabulary.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.