EABHAL – This Is How The Ladies Dance (own label EAB01)

This Is How The Ladies DanceI shouldn’t need to tell you that This Is How The Ladies Dance is the debut album by another talented and frighteningly young Scottish band. Kaitlin Ross, Megan MacDonald, Nicky Kirk, Jamie MacDonald and Hamish Hepburn came together on South Uist and as Eabhal they revive old tunes, write new tunes, borrow good tunes and add a few songs.

The opening track, ‘Beiridh Soiridh Soiridh Bhuam’ combines a waulking song with a new tune and is a bright sparkling start. Kaitlin has a pretty, slightly breathy voice but then has to sit down without so much as a tambourine to bash which strikes me as a waste of talent. Jamie wrote all three tunes in the second set, ‘MaSim’, and ‘Lads’ combines an Irish traditional tune, one from Quebec and another by Jamie whose fiddle is the dominant instrument although I have to single out the contributions of Hamish on pipes, flute and whistles throughout the album.

Hamish Napier is becoming a favourite writer for bands seeking material and ‘Windsong’ gives both Hamish and Nicky their moment in the spotlight. ‘An Ribhinn Donn’ is built on Megan’s pulsing accordion before the pipes take over and finally Kaitlin is back for a couple of minutes. The title set is a medley of pipe tunes from the west coast and now Kaitlin has something to get her teeth into with the Irish song, ‘Cáit I nGarráin A Bhile’, which Eabhal accompany quietly and sensitively followed by a splendid set of three more traditional songs, ‘Cairistion Nighean Eòghainn’. The album closes with another bright and breezy tune, ‘The Artist’.

If I have to criticise – and it is my job – I would tinker with the sequencing and give Kaitlin more to do. Apart from that, this is another fine debut.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: https://www.eabhal.com/

‘MaSim’ – live:

JAMIE MACDONALD & CHRISTIAN GAMAUF – The Pipe Slang (own label JMCG01)

PIpe SlangJamie and Christian met on the Isle Of Uist and, having participated in a cultural exchange in Asturias and paid their dues at small gigs, eventually making it to Celtic Connections, they started work on their debut album, The Pipe Slang. The title tune is an old reel but be careful if you Google it – you’ll learn more than you needed to know. Jamie plays fiddle and Christian performs on a variety of pipes. They keep it very simple, with just a guitar or piano continuo added to most tracks with Jack McRobbie (guitar) and Adam Young (piano) sharing arranging credits.

Much of the material is traditional in spirit, but in Scotland the tradition is an on-going process so here you’ll find tunes by James Scott Skinner and Pipe Major Donald Macleod – both legends in Scottish music. Although they keep coming back to the Hebrides, Jamie and Christian spread their net wide with tunes from Asturias and several by the late Jerry Holland, who is clearly a favourite – Adam is also from Cape Breton.

The exceptions to the pattern are the well-known waulking song ‘Mo Nighean Donn à Cornaig’ and ‘Iorram Nan Itheach’, a rowing song from Tiree with a melody by Donald Shaw. These are sung by Jamie’s sister Anna Rachel who also plays clarsach and add a contrast to what is an album dominated by pipes. ‘The Step Dancer Reels’ are augmented by the feet of Sophie Stephenson, another unexpected variation. I’m convinced that several tunes were chosen just for their titles: ‘The Highlandman Kissed His Mother’ and ‘The Boy’s Lament For His Dragon’, for example, not forgetting Scott Skinner’s ‘So I‘m Off With The Good St. Nicholas Boat’. But what do I know?

There is some fine playing here and I found that The Pipe Slang benefits from speakers with a good bass response to bring out the undercurrents.

Dai Jeffries

We have set up a new UK & U.S Storefront for brand new CD/Vinyl/Download releases recently featured together with a search facility for older stuff. The link for the folking store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/

Click to order featured CD/ Vinyl/Download/Book/DVD

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.pipeslang.com

‘Asturian’ – official video: