STRING SISTERS – Between Wind And Water (own label SISTERS118)

Between Wind And WaterThe impeccable musical pedigree of the String Sisters is undeniable and their new album Between Wind And Water demonstrates exactly why these formidably accomplished women are so rightly celebrated.

Bringing together Nordic and Celtic, classical and folk, this band of many styles is a veritable melting pot. All the aspects meld together perfectly, the fiddle types and playing styles producing a diverse range of sounds – from bagpipe-like drones to chamber-esque elegance – all in the blink of an eye. Bolstering this sextet of strings is an imaginative, often jazz-infused backline of bass, piano and drums.

‘The Crow’s Visit’ sets toes tapping from the get go, a lively two-tune set underpinned by shuffling drums and a burst of piano boogie. The fiddles here overlaying to build up a dense whirl of sound, sometimes peeling off into little individual rills or adding to the rich harmonic patterns.

‘Trotto’ is a joyful, trotting afterdance (sadly having lost its original dance partner) with a whiff of the middle-East about it and a rootsy, punchy performance. ‘Vinterfolk’ is driven by a sparkly guitar riff that conjures up glistening snow, whilst ‘Late Night In Førde’ bustles briskly along, keen not to miss any of the fun of the festival.

There are darker moods on offer here, too. ‘Return From Helsinki’, ever so faintly reminiscent of Seth Lakeman’s ‘Cape Clear’ in its melancholy air, shows off the Sisters’ brilliantly balanced interplay. The stunning ‘Det Bor I Mina Tankar’ takes off over an ominous piano and distant brittle glassy percussion; a brooding bass lending emotional support to Emma Härdelin’s vocals. Once again, music heeds no language barriers in this traditional Swedish tale of unrequited love and betrayal.

‘The Blooming Conductor’ concludes the album with a whirling trio of tunes of switchbacks and twists, deftly changing pace and style in a beat. Recorded live at the Celtic Colours Festival, the video footage on YouTube is well worth a look (once you’ve finished reading, of course).

From the moment it hit the CD player, it was clear that Between Wind And Water would be an instant classic. It’s a delight to hear these skilled players constantly breaking out, overlapping and interweaving, alternately harmonising and coming together in glorious unison. It’s an inspiring, invigorating album, revelling in the brilliant exuberance of the performances.

Su O’Brien

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‘The Blooming Conductor’ – live: