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KERFUFFLE 'K2' RootBeat Records Ltd RBRCD03

K2 is young East Midland band Kerfuffle's second release - they got together in 2002, and have been putting in regular (and successful) appearances at festivals such as Holmfirth and Trowbridge; they've also supported the likes of Eliza Carthy on tour - an impressive achievement for so young a band, whose members still seem to be in their teens. It looks like they inherited their love of trad music from their parents - babes in arms at mid-to-late 1980's folk festivals, no doubt - now that thought makes me feel very old!

I always try to listen to a band I've never heard before with a completely open mind. I was immediately struck by this group's musicality - they perform with a maturity, skill and exuberance that belie their tender years. I close my eyes, and I could so easily be listening to a Celtic band that's been churning out CDs and notching up gigs for years. Sam Sweeney's fiddle playing exudes lyricism (he plays a mean djembe too), Hannah James plays accordion with a lyrical, sure touch. She also plays piano and sings - her voice is pleasant, and suited to the gentler folk songs on the album. Chris Thornton-Smith is excellent on guitar and bouzouki, his picking creating plump, rich depth, and Tom Sweeney lays a solid foundation on bass guitar. They play extremely well together. A quick listen to spirited album opener 'Dance Little Maid/Monster Of Polska', or to the 'Speed The Plough' set, confirms that all those vital ingredients are there. 'O'Neill's Lament' is a beautiful fiddle tune - this album shows an ability to pick good material, and to balance the varying tempos well.

The band has been 'soaking up' these traditional tunes at Ethno Youth Music Camps in Sweden, Folkworks Workshops, and various UK folk festivals. They've found some pretty impressive mentors - Karen Tweed, Mary MacMaster, Chris Wood, Rodney Miller, Joe O'Donnell and others. The tunes are both vibrant and beautiful, collected from Sweden, Ireland, and Scotland (aye, there's a lovely Burns song here too - 'Ca' The Yowes').

As with so much Celtic music, it's the strong instrumental tracks that hit me - a great listen. These guys must put in a great live performance!

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 58 of The Living Tradition magazine.