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SARAH MALLINSON & DEBBIE WARREN "Lowlands" Punch Music PUNCD9801

These two sisters have a formidable armory of skills to bring to their debut album. Between them they play bouzouki, guitar, piano and keyboards, are able to sing a-capella, solo and in harmony, and to arrange music. They display all these assets on "Lowlands", and to good effect.

Sue Mallinson has fitted her own tunes to several of the songs, well-known ones like "Lowlands of Holland", "Botany Bay", and "The Durham Lockout", with no harm to any. Tom McConville, Alistair Russell, Chris Sherburn and Andy Seward support on fiddle, guitar, concertina and bass, putting flesh on the bones of arrangements that are pleasantly unfussy, especially considering that both women are classically trained. Classical training and sweet, pure, voices, could add up to a tedious listen, but the sisters have avoided that. The method is smooth, and the mood generally is relaxed, but they bounce along when they choose to - check out their "Raggle Taggle Gypsies" for example.

I'd like a little more strength in their voices, but there's a good deal on the album to please the ear, and more than a few surprises. If I were still working on radio I'd give it plenty of plays.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.