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TANNAS "Ru-Ra" CDLDL 1231

Only two CD's into their short career and already Tannas have impressed no less a person than, Capercaillie's, Donald Shaw so much so, that he aggress, not only to play on the CD but also, to produce it. The result is an impressive CD which builds on the foundations of "Oighreachd", Tannas first CD, but moves the band into a rounder, more sophisticated sound. "Ru-Ra" belies its translation as "topsy-turvy" with the whole album having a very "complete" and subtle feel.

Most bands are lucky if they have one good singer, Tannas have an embarrassment of riches in having two. The sisters Sandra and Doreen Mackay form the vocal backbone around which the rest of the arrangement is fitted. Their delicate harmonies give Tannas a unique sound whether it is a wistful lament such as "Nach Fhreadair Thu Cairistiona" or some playful "Puirt-a-Beul".

Julia Legge's fiddle gently supports the singers until the clever arrangements allows the fiddle to the fore when she confidently takes up the challenge. The same is true of the guitar playing of Malcolm Stitt (taking Mike Gardens place since the last CD) which is especially good on the instrumental track "Mrs Mary Stitt" which he wrote for his mum, and she should be chuffed, as it is a fine tune. Bringing Malcolm into the band was a shrewd move, as not only is he a fine guitarist and talented composer, he can also turn his hand to the bouzouki, whistles and the great highland bagpipe.

As I said at the start of this review, Donald Shaw both produced this CD and plays on it. His influence has been immense and his experience has allowed Tannas to make a CD which you might otherwise have expected them to take four or five CD's to get to. Donald's keyboards provide the glue to bind all the individual parts together and when he is not playing them you can feel his guiding hand on Jason Dove as he plays. With Donald's involvement it is inevitable that comparisons will be made with Capercaillie and while I normally try and avoid comparing bands I think in this case it is worthwhile. In places this CD does sound like Capercaillie and that is a measure of the quality of the music. However, I don't want to overdo the Capercaillie comparison as Tannas have their own distinct sound, which stands scrutiny in its own right.

Evocative vocals floating gently over an expertly woven carpet of fiddle, guitar, keyboard and percussion prove to be the lasting impression of this delightful CD.

I like it a lot, as will existing fans and also Capercaillie fans. In short anyone who likes good music will appreciate this CD.

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 15 of The Living Tradition magazine.