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Private Label ZITK001

This is the Scottish folk duo of Roddy Johnston and Kate Badcock, who play flute, piano, sax, pipes, fiddle, guitar, bombarde, and more (in addition to singing). Formed three years ago, this debut release combines traditional music and themes with some looping technology. It is a concept piece, taking migration as the theme (which is clearly not uncommon for traditional music from Scotland). However, it also includes broader material, such as Woody Guthrie’s reflections on the American migrations during the dust bowl of the 1930s, Pastures Of Plenty, and the Irish immigration (and anti-war) ballad, By The Hush. All of this is interspersed with tunes from places of emigration, such as Cape Breton.

The CD is not simply nostalgia for losses due to migration, but also a celebration of the contributions of generations of migrants. The concept came from the duo’s realisation that these traditional songs had a great current relevance in these days of independence referenda, Brexit and Trump. As the band states, “events from old ballads seemed to be coming to life.”

The music production itself is strongly rooted in traditional sounds (there is no need to “fear the looper”). Old favourites like Broom O’ The Cowdenknowes start quietly and build slowly and effectively. The release ends with the Proclaimers’ song, Scotland’s Story, about the cultural diversity that makes up Scotland – clearly a rather apt way to close a delightful project on migration.

Ivan Emke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.