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THE CAST - The Winnowing CUL104D

A debut album from Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis that fulfills all the promise they've shown up to now.

The arrangements are thoughtful and varied, as illustrated by the treatment given to the three Burns songs included: 'Auld Lang Syne' uses the original melody, while 'Green Grow the Rashes' is presented as a sambra - a style which suits the song remarkably well. (Dave claims Rabbie wrote it on a British Council sponsored trip to Rio de Janeiro, but that's a tale for another day). 'Ye Banks and Braes' has a considerably more traditional feel to it, but all three have a natural feel to them that says a lot about the work put in to the settings.

The remainder of the material demonstrates the versatility of the duo: Strathspeys and reels sit side-by-side with contemporary material and they prove themselves to be equally adept in both fields. But even by this, generally high, standard one track sits up and begs to be played: Mairi Campbell's voice and Peter and Steven Jones' 'Kilkelly' were made for each other, and the feelings this song evokes are guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat. (The song is based around a series of letters, sent in the late 1800's across the Atlantic to a son gone to make a new life in the New World).

An impressive start to their recording career, and they have been well served on the production and engineering side by Jack Evans and Nick Kinloch.

Jim Welsh

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This album was reviewed in Issue 2 of The Living Tradition magazine.