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HOM BRU 'No Afore Time' Hom Bru Recordings HB 1105CD

This CD might have the most obvious title yet. Hom Bru have been playing their infectious blend of Shetland-based music for over twenty-five years now, and this, incredibly enough, is only their fourth album. Still, I suppose, if you're so busy touring and playing live gigs, it can be a bit difficult to remember to drop into your recording studio every so often - and a good job that they did, too!

Of the original band, Gary Peterson (banjo, mandolin); Davie Henry (mandolin, vocals); and Brian Nicholson (guitar, vocals) are still here, joined now by fiddler John Robert Deyell. They have an instantly recognisable sound, with their blistering use of mandolin and banjo as lead instruments, all the more surprising, given the predominance of the fiddle in the Shetland tradition. The fire and attack that is brought to the livelier numbers does not come at the expense of sensitivity, with waltzes, slow airs and songs taking their place amongst the more fiery instrumentals.

The influences range from the romantically distant, as in the haunting Recuerdos de la Alhambra, to the ridiculously close, as in the mischievous Da Trowie Song - is it true that more trowies are seen after parties than before? With such a range of material, there are musical influences of many sorts, from swing to ragtime, but always reminding us of their roots.

With this high-energy release, existing fans will be well-satisfied, and newcomers will quickly become fans. And all will agree with the sentiments of the title.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.