Having previously enjoyed Jenna and Máiri's debut EP and Jenna's Debut Album (which Máiri obviously features on) I was very much looking forward to a feature length record from the two of them. Like many great duos, it is apparent that Jenna and Máiri are two musical minds that just 'get it'. They interpret one another's musical movements and know when to give it a little more and when to ease off. I was lucky enough to see these two live when they came over from Boston for a few Scottish dates to launch the album and the music is just as mesmerising live, as it is when you're shutting out the world with your headphones cranked up to full blast. The album comprises mainly of self-penned dots and traditional melodies from their respective backgrounds. One thing I love about this recording is that the balance of accompanying each other and playing in harmony is split fairly evenly. The subtle basses from Máiri's Scottish harp and Jenna's ringing strings from her five string fiddle (Yup, a five string *shocked/excited/intrigued emoji face*) blend perfectly together to create a powerful yet comforting sound that is very much their own. Tracks to look out for include Kyle Tune, Steph's Red Shoes / O Gur Duine Truagh Mi, My Mind Will Never Be Easy and Harry Handbell's / Up da Stroods. If I were to have only one criticism, it was all over far too quickly! 36 minutes is not long enough. My favourite thing about this recording however, is that it has a tremendous flow to it, a perhaps unintended rise and fall that keeps your toes tapping and knees bopping, but then settles and soothes you back down into a relaxed almost zen like headspace. Would highly recommend for stressful train journeys.
Twelfth Day - Cracks in the Room
Cracks in the Room is the fifth recording to come from Classical, Contemporary Folk duo - Catriona Price and Esther Swift - Twelfth Day. Admittedly, it's a little out of my comfort zone when it comes to what I normally listen to, but, I've found myself returning to it again and again since its release. Much like Jenna and Máiri above, these are two musical minds who are aligned so tightly that they could be coming from the same person. One constant theme throughout the album that I truly enjoyed was the aggressiveness of the instrumentation. The syncopated percussive style and pounding beat in Stop Talking About It really catches your attention and the pizzicato in Olive Branch is like the strings are being ripped from the fingerboard. This however, does not steal away from the vocal spectacle produced from Catriona and Esther and balances the recording out nicely. Another aspect I loved about this album is that, every track tells a story. The best example of this is in the track To Wait To Find. The instrumentation sets the scene and draws a picture in our head, whilst the lyrics bring together the plot piece by piece. Tracks to look out for include, Keep Seeking, Great Green and Cracks. I'll warn you now, Cracks is infectiously catchy!
Old Blind Dogs - Room With A View
As a kid growing up Old Blind Dogs was the staple choice for car journeys along with the likes of Blazin' Fiddles and Capercaillie. So when I saw that they had a new record coming out I was extremely excited. I'm glad to say that all that excitement was truly warranted. This album is phenomenal! The band have stuck true to their roots by combining superb Scots Song arrangements with thumping, driving instrumental tracks. This release sees a small but hugely significant line-up change for the four piece, with Donald Hay joining the ranks. His prowess on multiple forms of percussion contribute heavily to the stomp-like, driving sound present throughout the album. I know I say this about nearly every other record on here, but, you truly won't find anything else quite like this record. OBD have crafted a sound that reflects where the band has come from and with Andrea Gobbi (he's popping up everywhere) on production have shown us that there is (hopefully) a lot more music to come. Honestly, there is not much more that I can say. Just go buy it and hear for yourself. Tracks to look out for include, Newe, Earl O March's Daughter, Sawney Bean and Died and Gone.