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VAMM Records VAMM002

This is an impressive debut of instrumentals played on the fiddles of Patsy Reid and Catriona Macdonald, with Marit Fält on låtmandola (a ten string Nordic mandola). Three young ladies on a mission – to remind us what can be achieved with three such instruments, when in the hands of experts. A jolly mix of various modern and trad sources, the overall effect is stunning. The collective CV of this combo suggested that this may have had outstanding potential as a concept (Reid is a founder member of Breabach and Macdonald is a 12 year stalwart of Blazin’ Fiddles, while Fält is in a musical partnership with Rona Wilkie (BBC Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year winner). Far more important than their collective musical pedigrees, however, is their interaction, harmonically and melodically. They demonstrate an innate understanding of each other’s contributions and the whole album runs on rails.

The name VAMM is an old Shetland word meaning to entrance or bewitch, which sums up the CD for me. All arrangements are carefully considered – there’s a cracking take on the Easy Club’s tune The Ostrich, and a delightful version of Darren Milligan’s Prospect Road. Scott Skinner even gets a creditable airing (Castle Grant) and Marit Fält proves that she’s no slouch as a tunesmith herself, on the sublime Miranda. Of the bucket load of albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this year (and it’s a big bucket), this album is streets ahead of the competition so far. Nuff said. It’s an all-round gem. Wham, bam, thank you VAMM.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.