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Shouty Records SHOUTYCD03 

Piano accordion, bagpipes, banjo and fiddle - some people's worst nightmare, but in the hands of these two talented ladies it can work like a dream. As well as a fine selection of traditional Scottish pieces, and a wedge of North American fiddle tunes, there are several of Mairearad Green's own compositions here, and the first ever Green-Massie composing collaboration in A Lovely Bottle Of Botanist. Another new departure is a pair of songs: the Dougie MacLean weepy, She Loves Me, and the even more maudlin, Always Will, by Nanci Griffith.

The instrumentals are cheerier for the most part. Two great fiddle tunes by Jerry Holland bracket Otis Tomas' finger-twisting reel, Máire O'Keefe. Ali Beag MacLeod's waltz, Musical Flowers, is a happy tune too, as is the slow air, Julia & Simon's, written by Mairearad. The title track starts with the soulful Green tune, Bottle Island, and leads into a couple of new Scottish compositions by Mike Vass and Aidan O'Rourke. Ms Green doffs the piano box and picks up the pipes for a hefty march, strathspey and reel set. Not to be outdone, Anna grabs the tenor banjo for a showpiece which has become an essential part of this pair's live performances. A trio of big old pipe reels finishes Best Day in fine style, starting with the highly appropriate Sister's Reel. Lots to like here, lots to learn, and lots of wee nuances to listen out for.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.