I was first introduced to the wonderful sound of Northumbrian Smallpipes on hearing a recording by the High Level Ranters over thirty years ago. Colin Ross and particularly Alistair Anderson were both influential in helping broaden my audio tastes and that continues to this day with the prodigious talents of Kathryn Tickell. Most recently spotted as part of Sting’s entourage I’d forgotten how much I personally missed hearing the smallpipes as part of an ensemble and how easily they cut through the many layered sounds of a ‘band’. It’s the distinctively delicious Northern burr of the instrument much like the Geordie dialect that sets it apart and delivers to its audience a pleasurable, warm feeling. Opening with the melancholic setting of the self-penned tune “Our Kate” leading into the buoyant “Welcome Home” the pipes feature prominently throughout the recording and followed by the digitally demanding “Lads Of Alnwick/Sunderland Lasses/Peacocks March” Kathryn leaves you in no doubt that there is fighting spirit in the exquisite smaller relation to its more brutish cousin the Scottish Highland pipes. Having collected all of our heroine’s albums to date (of which there isn’t a duff one) I’d be hard pushed in choosing my favourites and, as Kathryn states in the sleeve-notes this isn’t really a “best of” but her personal choice of favourites (at present) from throughout her glittering twenty four years recording career. If you’re just starting out on a voyage of musical discovery or are already a fan of this beautiful instrument why not purchase a copy of this great 2-disk ‘calling card’…you won’t be disappointed!
Artist Website: www.kathryntickell.com