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ANGUS NICOLSON TRIO - Lasses That Baffle Us

ANGUS NICOLSON TRIO - Lasses That Baffle Us
Fires On The Shore  FOTS2

This is the debut recording from this trio of lads all hailing from Skye, fronted by Angus Nicolson on Highland and Border pipes and whistles.  The remaining two thirds are Andrew MacPherson on bodhran and whistles, and Murdo Cameron on guitar and accordion. 

Angus is a cracking piper, and the combination of guitar and bodhran behind him is a winning one.  It’s tight, it’s exciting and it’s perfectly executed.  At times the guitar / bodhran accompaniment is strikingly similar to Ed Boyd and John Joe Kelly’s partnership in Flook!   And in my opinion it doesn’t come much better than that.  The tunes picked are in the main from the Highlands and Islands with a few traditional Irish ones thrown in, and one of Angus’ own compositions for good measure.  They ooze Scottishness, particularly in the marches which Angus makes a lovely job of.  They are old and yet very fresh, and have a robust modern feel.

There is so much to applaud here, and in the main the CD is excellent, but for me, there is a but!  It may be an eagerness to be a bit different, it may be an influence from outside the trio, I don’t know, but the arrangements are sometimes a bit over the top for me.  Quite a few tracks feature a brass backing.  I think brass can work really well at times and can really augment the music (Michael McGoldrick, La Boutine Souriante and Kate Rusby being good examples) but on this occasion I feel it lacks a bit of subtlety and often detracts from the tunes.  Both the brass and other “orchestration” are quite high in the overall mix, perhaps if they were a bit quieter it might work better.  In any case, the trio’s musicianship is such, that I don’t feel any of the other stuff is needed.

But that said, this is still an excellent debut CD with some good solid playing.  Watch out for them playing live – I bet they will go down a storm.

Fiona Heywood 

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.