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FEISTY BESOMS - "Auld Flames" - Own Label FB001

This is singing for pleasure from the Balnain Ten in an album that will both surprise you and cheer you up.

The Feisties are Andrena Ballantyne, Corrie Briggs, Janine Bolger, Sandra Gibson, Christine McClenaghan, Wilma McKerr, Sheila MacLeod, Christina Stewart and Balnain's answer to The Judds - Christine and Caroline Hewat.

What's in a name, indeed, for they've already been mentioned in The Scotsman's infamous "Listings" section as the Feisty Bosoms, but add a couple of country songs and you might have had the Patsy Quines.

Coming from various parts of the Highlands, they were brought together by a love of singing and dancing and are based at Inverness' traditional music centre at Balnain House on the fashionable Left Bank of the Ness and this album ranges from traditional ballads and songs to a Sister Swingle treatment of some Gaelic mouth music. The only instruments you'll hear are the occasional bodhran (I like my bodhrans to be occasional) and Caroline's beautifully-played clarsach, for this is a celebration of the voice.

Standout for me is their version of "Wo Worth The Tyme", written by Robert Carver in 1545 at a time when Scots was a distinct language, but this gentle love song is only part of an eclectic repertoire which includes toe-tappers (sorry) like "Get Your Feet Out of My Shoes", Ewan MacColl's "Terror Time" and contributions from Burns, Richard Thompson and Violet Jacob.

According to the sleeve notes, if hearing this album makes you want to sing - in the bath, in the car or at a workshop or session - then you'll know what the Feisties are all about.

It's a highly enjoyable album underscoring the beauty, range and diversity of the singing voice.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.