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ORION - "Restless Home" - RSCD M312

This is the second album by this group that I've had the privilege of reviewing. Like its predecessor "Blue Room" it is an exquisite work which is in no small part due to the superb playing on diatonic and chromatic accordions by Raquel Gigot. She is of Belgian/Spanish extraction and whether in the foreground or simply there in other tracks when another instrument takes the lead, it is her finesse, expression and above all, soul, that gives the group its unique emotional impact.

Mindful of the recent correspondence about the shortcomings of reviews being sparse with their justification, I'll attempt to qualify "unique" by admitting to "unique in my experience" and resisting the temptation to make comparisons with a few better known but tired old war-horses who would do well to listen to this and learn. There may be bands out there that can equally turn out well-crafted and quietly passionate music such as this, but I haven't heard them of late.

It's not all down to Raquel either. "Enez Du" (which means Dark Island - now there's a thing!) certainly has her presence but it shifts around with the delicate and sensitive guitar playing of Phillip Catherine to the fore, whilst the haunting feel of "The Shores of Marsanney" is due to the flute of ex-member Nicholas Quemener (now of Arcady) re-joining Orion for this outing.

I noted with some apprehension a change in line-up with the inclusion of Jamie McMenemy and the departure of Soig Siberil, but needn't have. Although "Far Off Fields" did less for me than most of the other tracks, Jamie's "Lord Gregory" fits perfectly with the feel of the group. I'm looking out of a window at the Eildon Hills as I write this and the melifluousness of the music is simply perfect in its complementarieness to the golden autumnal landscape. Funny thing is, that I don't know if I'd want to see the group "live" if they came to the UK, as I don't know if a concert could improve them in any way, or maybe I'm just scared to have my illusions shattered - however they have brought me a step nearer to having a CD player installed in my car.

Lots of guests crop up on the album but I'm not going to list them as it's Orion themselves who merit the plaudits. I took the album along to a conference I hosted yesterday and it was played over the PA to arriving delegates. They were not folkies but the amount of favourable responses and queries was gratifying. Once again, an incredibly good album by a group of musicians who have simply got it.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.