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Gillian Frame & Back of the Moon
Gillian Frame & Back of the Moon CDFSR1711

When a new group emerges that comprises musical award winners, much is expected of their debut album and this Scottish quartet do not disappoint. Gillian Frame on fiddle and vocals is the first ever winner of the new Scottish Young Traditional Musician of the Year award while three of her group, including herself, were also finalists in the all Britain traditional award organised by BBC Radio 2. With such an achievement, this band must be destined for musical success.

A major criticism of many of today's emerging youth talent is the lack of sympathy with the tradition. Too often there is an over-emphasis on instrumentals played at breakneck speed, with a resulting irritating wall of sound. Back of the Moon have carefully avoided this, with a varied programme of traditional and self-penned tunes played with style, finesse and consideration to their composers. It is pleasing to discover that song has not been neglected. For me the best track in the album is Gin I were a barons heir, beautifully sung by pianist Hamish Napier.

It is good to see the advance of the Border and uilean pipes in Scottish bands. While the highland bagpipes are often too loud and shrill for indoor use, these popular alternatives have a muted sound which is delightful. Piper Simon McKerrall has effectively weaved his playing with the other musicians, to great effect. This is very evident, for example, in the band's own composition Eric's March where pipes and piano beautifully coalesce. In the old Scottish air Fingal's Weeping, the piping is superb, creating the required sad and haunting effect.

Gillian's fiddle playing prowess is evident throughout. The album opens with her solo fiddle. Crisp and clean, it demonstrates her form control of her instrument. Unusually for a fiddler, she also sings, taking lead vocals on a number of tracks including the difficult task of gaelic songs. However, all band members must be congratulated as the album is very much a combined effort which creates such a pleasing sound.

There seems little doubt that this band will become a major force in an already talented Scottish folk scene.

Dave Dewar

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.