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STEVE LAWRENCE & HUDSON SWAN "Amalgamation" KRL CDLDL1273

Steve Lawrence, ex member of 'The Iron Horse' and with various other KRL projects to his name, along with Hudson Swan, ex of 'Tannahill Weavers' (and seemingly of his own group!), team up here for a new release on the Lochshore label. Although according to Stevie, this album was finished two years ago, it has only just seen the light of day - we can only speculate upon the effect it might have if it were contemporary.

One first listening to the CD I was struck by the similarity of production to Iron Horses' "Five Hands High", indeed it was sequenced using similar equipment, in a constant search for that little something different. Throughout "Amalgamation" our intrepid explorers are joined by a huge supporting cast, not least Anna Murray who lends her electric bagpipes to "The Little Cascades" closing section, in one of the albums highlights.

For a long time now Stevie has flirted with early music, with Whirligig being his major project to date, however, there is a sense that this interest is never far away throughout the backbone of "Amalgamation". In fact it's true to say that the most interesting and fulfilling moments from this album are where the modern sequencing and early music are in close harmony. Other high points in this recording are Hudson's accomplished fiddle playing, and the twin assault of breakneck bouzoukis, although we could have done with more of the latter. I think that "Amalgamation's" greatest moments probably come in the closing trilogy of Bourees, Secret Games, and Seven Hearts.

Despite not being an essential addition to your collection, anyone with an interest in 'The Iron Horse' or a modern interpretation of early music will find much to enjoy on this release.

Keith Witham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.