Chris Stout,
First o' the Darkenin'
(Greentrax, 2004)

Chris Stout is lead fiddler with the delightfully named Shetland band Fiddler's Bid, and he brings us a great new recording to demonstrate the fiddle style of the island. But First o' the Darkenin' is not an album of old Shetland music. Chris has used the freedom offered by the progressive Greentrax label to experiment -- in the best possible taste -- with sounds old and new.

He gives a beautiful set with an intriguing title on track two. "Scandaonymous" opens with a tune whose history he has failed to track down -- yet. He believes it to hail from Sweden, hence the title. For a slow beauty, it is hard to beat the track "Norwegian Hymn."

My favourite on the album is "Da Day Dawn/Greenland Man's Tune." The notes tell us that the opening piece refers to the light dawning on the morning of the New Year. One can just visualise the stark island landscape and rugged coast with light seeping then flooding in.

This is old music revitalised and played from the heart.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 19 June 2004