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Wolfstone - This Strange Place
WOLFSTONE "This Strange Place" Green Linnet GLCD1188

Wolfstone completists beware the contractual obligation album! This is actually a repackaged re-release of an album originally entitled "Drever-MacKenzie", which was circulating during the summer of '97, and overall will be a little mellow for the out and out celtic grunge fanatics, as the kerranngg factor has been knocked on the head for a more acoustic sensibility.

The songs are more introspective as befits an album that is essentially an Ivan Drever solo outing, and he contributes towards eight of the ten tracks in all. Stand out songs include "'Till I Sleep", a sort of modern day anthemic parting song, featuring Drever's world weary turn of phrase which has always been a hallmark of his output, and "Let Them Sing" written as a celebration of music and dance.

In terms of tunes, the piping of Stevie Saint features strongly and the opening set "The Harlequin" kicks nicely into gear and takes the album off at a fair pace. There is some excellent snare drum work from Jimmy Wallace which opens "Stevie's Set" with a very original arrangement before it becomes yet another pipes, guitar, bass and 4/4 on the floor workout in acoustic aerobics. Duncan Chisholm features in "Banks of the Ness" a beautiful air which captures the spirit of a place and time, before the inevitable bass and drums chase all the ducks away.

The closing set of the moody "Thief in the Night" which eventually resolves into the jaunty small pipe led "Hills of Kazakhstan" goes some way to redeeming all that has gone before but it's too little, too late.

Overall the album has the feel of a cranked up studio session. This is certainly not Wolfstone at their best, a lot of the ideas are unresolved and are not helped by some particularly dodgy mastering in places. If the end is really nigh for the band, it would be a shame if such a class act were to be remembered for going out with such a whimper instead of a howl.

Iain McQueen

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