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THE FRETLESS - Live From The Art Farm 

THE FRETLESS - Live From The Art Farm 
Private Label TFCD004 

Well there’s some terrific playing here! Recorded live, Fretless is a four-piece group consisting of fiddles and cello. They play with real gusto, verve and swing, launching into a series of tunes from Ireland. They’re more along the lines of Fiddle Fever than UK equivalents, such as Methera, so anyone who loves jazzy, funky, rhythmic music will love it.

I have some reservations. It’s often difficult to recognise the tune at all (so why bother using it?) and when they do play it ‘straight’ it often sounds rather like a classical violinist playing the notes rather than an Irish fiddler playing a stylish traditional tune. This crosses over to the album information – tracks are given a single, often jokey title – but no more. If you want to find out what the tunes are, you have to look at the accompanying press release. Bizarre! Much rhythmic punch is provided by the cello using the increasingly popular chop technique – but to my ears this is overdone, especially as he plays really beautifully when he’s not using it.

So, to me a mixed bag: most people will be undisturbed by my criticisms and will thoroughly enjoy this.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.