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SKIPINNISH - The Sound of the Summer

SKIPINNISH - The Sound of the Summer
Skipinnish Records SKIPCD10

The Sound of the Summer finds West Highland entrepreneurs/traditional music supremos Angus MacPhail and Andrew Stevenson handsomely supported by a host of well-known musicians. This duo plays classic, popular tunes with real feeling, their handling of rhythm and tempo superb as they switch from leisurely march to breakneck reel with breathtaking control. Lively dance tunes, such as Schottische & Reels are played with an infectious sense of enjoyment and fun; the quickening pace of the duo's small pipes and accordion is adeptly matched by feisty percussion and Rachel Walker's lively puirt a beul.

A beautiful set of Gaelic waltzes and Duncan Johnstone's gorgeously stirring tune Farewell to Nigg evoke a richly nostalgic feel. Evidence that, despite the lightheartedness that often creeps through their music, this duo doesn't shy away from revealing a less 'rugged' face. Malcolm Jones' distinctive and restrained guitar playing comes to the fore in Para Handy Suite, whilst Rachel Walker's lovely voice is used to elegant effect on two tracks: Irish song Spancil Hill, and Gaelic song Tir a'Mhurain.

This is another of those albums whose sleeve is adorned with upbeat endorsements from prominent figures in the Scottish music industry. Take Allan MacDonald's: 'Skipinnish are a distillery . taste and feel!' In this case the hyperbole sums up this band's music extremely well indeed, though it would be annoying if you didn't agree with it after buying the album. But if you're looking for authenticity and feeling in Scottish traditional music, you'll surely find it in abundance here.

The album's cracking Bagpipe Jig Finale, beefed up with a rocking drum beat and jaunty jaw's harp, ought to tempt a few listeners to want to seek out one of those Skipinnish Sea Tours so breezily referred to in the sleeve notes - far more appealing than any product I've seen advertised on telly lately, I must say. As if this music wasn't satisfying enough!

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.