Although Tricky Terrain is their third album, this is the first time that Reely Jiggered have come to my attention. The Clydeside trio are sisters Alison and Fiona McNeill and their cousin Scott McLean and they work in a diverse range of styles fusing the musical influences they have picked up on their travels from Mexico to Japan. Alison sings and plays fiddle, Fiona plays guitar and bodhran and Scott drums. They are joined on this album by bassist Gregor McPhie and Stuart Taylor on keyboards.
The album opens with the single, ‘Walking Boots’ – an excellent choice. Written by Alison, it starts with drones, pounding percussion and seagulls but is rooted in the Argyll & Bute landscape. I should say before going any further that Alison is a trained soprano with a remarkably powerful voice and here she explores sonic palettes previously the preserve of Kate Bush. The second song ‘Searching For You’ is very much in the same vein. Next is the title track, a long instrumental medley beginning with a middle eastern sound and leaping from style to style.
‘Lost In Time’ finds us back on Clydeside and then things begin to change a little. We are in Burns country and Alison takes ‘The Deil’s Awa’ at a tongue-twisting pace over a stunning arrangement followed by ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ – another vocal tour de force. There are two more instrumental sets: the piano and fiddle duet ‘Sunset Over Gourock’ and ‘Countdown’, including tunes by Charlie McKerron and Ian Lowthian. Alison’ final composition is the wonderfully titled ‘I’m Not A Passenger, I’m Part Of The Landscape’, a song about not standing still and letting life run over you.
Finally, and worth the entrance price on its own, we have ‘Auld Lang Syne’. This is the proper version with all the words and the correct tune and it feels appropriate that a band that revels in mixing musical styles should bring their album back to their roots with this song. If we had a track-of-the-year award this would get my vote.
Artists’ website: www.reelyjiggered.co.uk
‘Walking Boots’ – official video: