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THE FRASER SISTERS "Going Around" No Masters NMCD 19

This is the second Cd from Fi and Jo Fraser, their first being released to critical acclaim for the freshness and originality of vision that they brought to what was essentially a collection of old traditional songs and tunes. So it was with a rush of keen anticipation that I first listened to this new recording. But they seem to have lost their way somewhat, although the mix of sax and fiddle does still retain flashes of stimulating freshness, particularly on the dance tunes Sansonnette/Coridinio, and on Jos composition A Sault The Groom. The interplay also works well on the instrumental, Laughing In Her Sleep/Grinding Her Teeth, with its distinct shades of the swing sound of Easy Club, but too often that spark, that vitality doesn't kick-in on the songs. They present a fairly pedestrian version of The Watercress Girl, where theres nothing desperately wrong with it, its just that it isn't anything special, and somehow I was expecting more. The sleeve notes have it to a tee - "back to the days of Umps And Dumps", with the further observation that "Nostalgia's not what it used to be" - sadly it says it all really. There's further nostalgia with Yorkshire Romance, where they pitch it right and get away with it, just, but the powerful Tom Waits' song Briar And The Rose, completely failed to move me. They do at least do justice to Cyril Tawney's Monday Morning - it really comes alive, and how! A really excellent version, and easily the best track on the CD for me.

"Going Around" has pedigree, stacks of it, but, despite No Masters co-op, production by Tams, and sound from Panda, Im afraid its never going to make best in show. Sorry, but it's just something of a lost opportunity.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 48 of The Living Tradition magazine.