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Private Label ROBRECCD02

English music, pure and simple - except that this CD is neither of those things. Harbron's concertina and Reid's fiddle dip into Shetland, Swedish and other traditions, as well as adding their own melodies to this tapestry of folk music on their second duo recording. There is a unifying thread, a soulful yet determined spirit, which joins the dark winter music of Sweden with the miserable ballads of England and the solemn bridal marches of Shetland. The same fishermen made port in Harwich, Hartlepool, Lerwick and Lund, and, of course, their music crossed the sea with them. Emma Reid is a product of this cross-over herself, half Swedish and steeped in the fiddle traditions of Norsemen and Northumbrians: her compositions are in some ways the musical heart of Flock & Fly. The stately promenade, Great Uncle Henry, blends the formality of Swedish dance music with the warmth of English regional tunes, while her waltz, Bengts 50, mixes the eerie troll tones of Scandinavia with the fluid cascades of the Cheviots. Moving Back Home is straight out of the American backwoods, a place shared by Swedes and Scots and Southerners alike, and follows on from the pure old-time simplicity of Shove The Pig's Foot A Little Further Into The Fire, because when a tune has a name that good you just have to record it.

Reid and Harbron entwine their melodies and harmonies throughout this CD, but their contributions are different. Harbron's November Waltz is one of several more English-sounding pieces here: the old Camberwell and Upon A Summer's Day, the new Blue John Hornpipe and Waiting For Rain. The Swedish side soon rears its head with a Brollopsmarsch - not by English author Anthony Brollop - and a couple of those Efter polskas, dark and brooding. There are a few rays of sunshine in the shape of Jullien's Original Polka (apparently from the polka craze of the 19th century which many melodeon players still don't realise is over) and the splendid borderlands pairing of Squirrel In The Tree with Grand Hornpipe. Rob sets the cap on this magical misery tour with two truly maudlin songs - the Somerset dirge, Master Kilby, about economic migration and unsatisfied desires, and the American complaint, Pretty Saro, about aimless rambling and unsatisfied desires. Rich resonant fiddle and concertina notes give every track the depth and shine of a perfectly polished performance, and Flock & Fly certainly bears repeated listening. One for the chilly nights and rainy days of spring and summer, with sharp objects safely hidden away.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.