The Iron Horse,
The Wind Shall Blow for Ever More
(Lochshore, 2003)

This is an exceptionally fine album of traditional Scottish vocal/instrumental music by the Iron Horse -- their first since 1997. The players, well known in trad music circles, are Gavin Marwick (fiddle/mandolin), Stevie Lawrence (stringed instruments, percussion, whistle, hurdy-gurdy), Ross Kennedy (vocals/guitars), Annie Grace (pipes/whistles/vocals) and Stuart Glasgow (keys/programming). There's a lovely balance of original and traditional material, and the playing styles reveal the wealth of influences the band members have picked up on their travels over the years; musical influences are from Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Eastern Europe and even Holland.

Ross Kennedy's voice is wonderfully resonant. His vocals feature on lovely songs including Burns' "Duncan Gray," "The Twa Corbies" and "Helen of Kirkconnel." Ex-Tannahill Weavers member Kennedy formed Iron Horse many years back.

The band's sound is characterised by vibrant, expressive fiddle playing -- Gavin Marwick can also be heard on albums such as the excellent "Silver" by Cantrip. Actress/musician Annie Grace lends great distinction to the album with her wonderful pipe and whistle playing -- her solo album Take Me Out Drinking Tonight is well worth a listen. Bouzouki, guitar and mandolin resonate bright and clear throughout, and there's unusual instrumentation too in the form of hurdy-gurdy ("Brook's Bouree"). Glasgow's programming on "Cille Choirill" lends real ambience to this lovely piece. This band keeps the tradition, but delivers with energy and expression.

I was delighted to find covers of many well known tunes on the album: it includes Charlie McKerron's "Bulgarian Red" and "Jig of Life," which I last heard on Kate Bush's classic Hounds of Love album. The band members' own tunes stand tall, however: Annie Grace, Gavin Marwick and Steve Lawrence are fine composers. This is immensely rewarding listening.

- Rambles
written by Debbie Koritsas
published 22 January 2005

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