THE BEVVY SISTERS – This Moment (Interrupto IM007)

This MomentThe Bevvy Sisters first came to our ears in 2009 with an album of mostly old songs sung in the close harmony style of the 40s and 50s edged with jazz and blues. Five years later, their follow-up, Plan B, continued in the same vein, although perhaps a little more seriously. Now comes their third album, This Moment, and while the style remains broadly similar, the substance is rather more sophisticated – there is a distinct lack of banjo. There have been changes in line-up and Gina Rae and Louise Murphy complete the band with founding members Heather Macleod and “token male” David Donnelly.

All the songs except Melody Gardot’s ‘Love Me Like A River’ are written by band members. The opener, ‘Timing’, is an observation on the pace of modern life complete with fake station announcements, sung in the Bevvys’ classic style. ‘Get Go’ is a funky workout with Vini Bonnar guesting on drums and Macleod’s ‘Home’ presents a moody slice of lounge jazz with brief solos and fills which I guess are treated guitar by Donnelly.

‘Heal This Heart’ is a gently bluesy song by Murphy which begins softly with their other guest drummer, Tom Bancroft, being joined by Donnelly’s acoustic guitar. Inevitably it ends with rich harmonies from the three principals. A cover of a song by Melody Gardot is a real no-brainer in the context of this album, built on Andy Thorburn’s piano and Alistair Brown’s cello it’s smooth and lush.

There’s a change of pace towards the end with the rolling, country-tinged ‘Waterline’, possibly my favourite track of the set and the gentle ‘This Moment’ – sadly not the old Mike Heron song but addressing the same idea from a far less optimistic viewpoint.

This Moment is a smooth and sophisticated piece of work and I applaud The Bevvy Sisters for moving forward but I miss the sense of fun they used to bring to their music.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Get One Life’ – live:

MUCH ANTICIPATED ALBUM FROM DAMIAN HELLIWELL’S PROJECT ‘METTA’

Metta

RELEASE DATE: Monday, 9th June, 2014

 

Having released an EP in January, the much anticipated self-titled album, Damian Helliwell’s “Metta”, will be released on the 9th June.

Acclaimed for his musicianship and compositional flair with the renowned Gaelic band Dàimh, “METTA” steps out of the genre to showcase Damian’s most accomplished and progressive work to date.

Damian Helliwell’s Metta is a groundbreaking compositional debut that uses the traditional genre as a platform to expand and develop from. It is also a project featuring some of Scotland’s most highly respected traditional musicians, with Eilidh Shaw on fiddle, Jen Hill on double bass, Andy Thorburn on piano and Donald Hay on percussion alongside Helliwell on mandolin and tenor Banjo. The result breaks norms in instrumental hierarchy and stretches the boundaries of rhythm and melody. This innovative debut marks Helliwell’s Metta out as one of the most exciting new acts on the Scottish music scene.

Helliwell’s uniquely individual approach is apparent on all levels of this project, not only in his compositional style. Six years ago the self-taught instrumentalist vanished from an active life in Edinburgh’s traditional music scene, returning to the remote Hebridean island of his upbringing. Here he quietly set about single handedly building a straw bale house and recording studio, creating the perfect environment to foster and nourish creativity. At the same time, he was writing prolifically, relishing the creativity that the space and solitude inspired.

This album is the fruitful culmination of Helliwell’s efforts and ambition, finally brought into form with a star studded group of the most expressive and sensitive musicians in the country, and recorded in the ancient Pythagorean tuning of A=432hz (said to access the resonance of the full harmonic overtone series). A vibrant, atmospheric sound that defies easy categorisation, Metta is richly emotive, passionate and original.

The album was recorded and produced on the Hebridean Island of Eigg. Damian is a proud resident of Eigg and releases the album to coincide with and celebrate the 17th anniversary of “Eigg Independence Day” on the 12th June, which marks the date of the historic community “buy out” of the island, 17 years ago.

Damian is extremely passionate about this album and indeed the Isle of Eigg. His emotions are best described by the man himself:

This project and album is the culmination of several years of writing and a lifetime of playing, a reflection of the beauty of the environment I live in and an expression of my passion and love for that beauty.

To realize this new music I was privileged to have four incredible musicians working with me. Their naturally expressive musicality fitted the material perfectly and I am sincerely grateful for their creative input, professionalism, experience and love that they brought to this project. They enabled it to reach the place I dreamt of.

We recorded this album over two weeks, in the inspirational tranquility of my studio in Eigg. To capture the raw energy of the music, it was recorded, live and in the resonant pythagorian tuning of A=432hz”

Artists’ website: www.metta-music.com

BLAZIN’ FIDDLES – Thursday Night In The Caley (Blazin’ Records BRCD2011)

The unrestrained passion bursts forth from the string driven sound that is Blazin’ Fiddles and from the very first track “Fashion O’ The Lassies/Sound Of Mull/Janine’s Reel/The Storm” the enjoyment conveyed by each member contagiously transmits its way to the listener. In these times of notable recession it’s nice to find music so uplifting that it can’t help but bring a smile to the face of even the most jaundiced members of the public. Even without the charismatic flourishes from Catriona MacDonald but now utilising the services of the equally talented Shetland fiddler Jenna Reid and Anna Massie on guitar/fiddle the join is seamless for those of us that have been following the band’s career to date. Of course the main thrust of the recording features the fiddles of Bruce MacGregor, Allan Henderson and Iain MacFarlane packing an almighty punch and not to be outdone, the exuberant skills of Andy Thorburn’s honky-tonk piano accompaniment on James Hill’s wonderful hornpipe “The Golden Eagle” will, I’m sure be approved by musicians everywhere. All in all this is an energetic performance that should find its way onto the shelf of any self-respecting collector of ‘quality’ folk music.

PETE FYFE

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