Catriona McKay
& Chris Stout,
(Greentrax, 2005)

Laebrack is a tour de force of the best of Scottish playing on harp and fiddle. The tunes may not be too familiar, but given even a casual listen to these two musicians, you cannot help but be hooked by the professional playing allied to an evident love of music.

Opening with "Smugglers," Catriona McKay and Chris Stout transport their listeners to Shetland; you will feel the spray in your face of a wild Atlantic night. Next comes the wonderfully titled "Hangman's Reel."

The title track returns us to the sea. Apparently, "Laebrack" is a Shetland term for surf and on this track they also play a tune called "Spondrift," being another name for sea spray. You have been warned -- wear the oilskins as you play this track. "Turns" marries traditional music and instruments to jazz.

The track "Bride's March" also comes from Shetland, but I would hate to be the groom waiting for the bride to travel the length of the church to this rather slow piece, although I would enjoy hearing the tune.

Sadly many radio shows fail to play such music, even of this calibre, so it is up to you to get out there and hear it in your record shop and add it to your collection.

by Nicky Rossiter
7 January 2006