Calum Stewart of Manran fame and Lauren MacColl have formed as a duo and their debut release ‘Wooden Flute and Fiddle‘ is described as being fiercely tradtional. Despite this many of the tunes they have chosen for this album are not well known. The tunes, some of which are from 250 to 300 years old, come from lesser used song books such as the Skye Collection and tunebooks from the North East of Scotland. Maybe due to a lack of familiarity the results are beautiful, the syncopation in some of the tunes gives them a modern unexpected edge.
Because the songs are unaccompanied some old tricks of the trade are employed, Lauren adopts some open tunings on the fiddle by tuning down the bottom strings by a semitone and tuning up the upper, this results in a greater resonance when heard against the flute. This is by no means a new trick, it was something that was done throughout the ages to give greater volume when playing unamplified with other musicians and dancers, the results are impressive.
That extra subtle sparkel is provided by Andy May (harmonium) and Eamon Doorley (bouzouki) who offer some lovely counter-lines to the melodies which compliment the tunes in a sensitive and skillful way.
Whilst both Lauren and Callum are both influenced by the tradtions of the north east coast of Scotland (Moray and Black Isle areas) they are also influenced by tradtonal music from Ireland, Cape Breton and Brittany where Callum now lives. These influences are espacially noticeable on some of their self-penned tunes.
The album is well balanced from wonderful foot tapping tunes Eoghainn Ian Alasdair and Rise ye Lazy Fellow to beautiful melodies such as Alzen, this tranquil piece was written before sunrise in the abandoned chapelle de Sainte Croix, Aizen, in Southern France, it’s one of the loveliest tunes featured and conjures the peace and isolation of a special moment in time.
This is a fantastically inventive release from Calum and Lauren who are at the top of teir league on this release, a close knit duo I hope we’ll be hearing more from. For those going to Celtic Connections in 2013 don’t miss their performance on 30th January.
Album Stream: Wooden Flute and Fiddle
Photo Credit: Lizzy Doe