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Ankerdram Go’ Danish Folk Music GO0318

The Ankerdram was the drink sailors knocked back when they reach port safely. And Fru Skaggerak, a pan-Nordic (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) have reached their second recording port. It’s remarkable what time and touring can achieve. The album brims over with confidence and bravura, and the material and performances to match. Kicking off with a glorious halling, the album shifts between the traditional covers (Kräfta, for example) and originals, with three fiddles, and sometimes the surprise of two voices, as on the gorgeous Kong Vallivan where they’re a cappella, or the 19th Century lulla- by (of sorts) Lille Snaps.


Away From My Window Cairnie IF18AWAY

This is the debut album of young folksinger Iona Fyfe, who grew up in Huntly, Aberdeen- shire. Like her previous six-track EP release, this album is rooted deeply in the singing tra- ditions of the north east of Scotland. In her strong, clear, youthful voice, Fyfe sings a selection of traditional Buchan ballads drawn from the great song collections of Aberdeen- shire (Greig-Duncan, Gavin Greig, John Ord etc) including some fine renditions of classic ballads such as Glenlogie and Bonny Udny and a rousing, barnstorming delivery of Pit Gair (Chairlie O Charlie). The excellent accom- panying booklet provides lyrics and interest- ing, scholarly information about the history of the ballads.

Because Fyfe is keenly aware that the folk tradition is organic and continually absorbing new songs, she includes in this album two of her favourite contemporary ballads: Michael Marra’s Americana/ country- flavoured Take Me Out Drinking Tonight and Aidan Moffat’s gentle bluesy lullaby And So Must We Rest. Fyfe also includes a song of her own: Banks Of The Tigris is about the suffer- ing of children in Syria, and is set to a melody inspired by a traditional Aberdeenshire tune.

The album is produced by Jani Lang (of Dallahan) and thoughtful, atmospheric musi- cal arrangement and accompaniment is pro- vided by Luc McNally (guitar), Tim Edey (melodeon, nylon guitar, steel guitar), Charlie Grey (fiddle), Simon Gall (piano), David Foley (bodhran), Graham Rorie (mandolin), Charlie Stewart (double bass), Callum Cronin (dou- ble-bass) and Ross Miller pipes and whistle). Paul Matheson HUGH MASEKELA

Masekela ‘66 – ‘76Wrasse WRASS354 (three album set)

In more than five decades of regularly attend- ing festivals, some events stand out like bea- cons. One was the 1990 concert in the Man- dela Hall at the University of Sussex a few weeks after the release of the great man from prison. A huge multicultural capacity crowd

celebrated by singing along with Masekela on great hits like Bring Him Back Home as part of an utterly joyful memorable occasion.

Some of the facts of his life are well known, the short celebrity marriage to Miriam Makeba and his first trumpet given by Louis Armstrong through the good offices of Arch- bishop Trevor Huddleston among them. Stylis- tically, of course, their playing is miles apart but technically they shared a open-throated tone with supreme comfort in the top notes.

These three CDs only cover one decade in a long illustrious career which means that the early South African tracks with the great Kippie Moeketsi are not included. They pick up his career after he left South Africa soon after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre when he shared his time between playing jazz, often in small clubs, and studying his instrument at leading colleges in London and then New York. On the first album, we hear him first with American musicians and there is much of the anger that characterised experimental SA jazz of that era. As the album progresses we hear more of his singing including the unlike- ly number one hit from 1968, Grazing In The Grass. It ends with the mighty protest of Is There Anybody Out There?

The second album sees a broadening of his scope as the selected tracks include a wider range of genre rhythms including Latin and blues tracks but also referring back to his native land with mbaquanga and arrange- ments that hark back to the big band style of Ntemi Piloso.

Political activism has always been central

to Masekela’s life and music, though by the time the tracks of the third album were recorded, this was having a detrimental effect on his American career and was one reason for his extended stay in West Africa. He recorded with a wide range of African musi- cians, particularly percussionists, and we are listening to a confident, mature artist whose mastery shows increasing depth, sophistica- tion and interest though his years of interna- tional stardom still lay in the future.

Production by long-term producer Stew- art Levine, a hard-covered booklet with an introductory essay by Robin Denselow and notes underscoring changes and develop- ments during the decade, all add to the enjoyment of this fascinating collection. Vic Smith

On a couple of tracks Elise Wessel Hil- drum switches to recorder to bring in a dif- ferent texture, changing the entire direction of the piece. It’s a masterful touch, but typi- cal of the surprises this trio can serve up. Ankerdram is absolutely accomplished and overflowing with joy. There’s astonishing power and fire in the unison playing, and even the oddities, like Den Glade Brygger, a “polkalypso” inspired by a vintage American poster for Carlsberg (yes, really), come out grinning. Superby produced by Antti Järvelä (JPP, Frigg), a man very sympathetic to massed strings, it’s a definite triumph, and a quantum leap for the band. They’ve com- pletely grown into their identity. Another port of call soon, hopefully. Chris Nickson


Cardboard Fox is the abundantly youthful quartet that brings together the natural, unassuming multi-instrumental brilliance and sibling harmonies of the Carrivick sisters, Laura and Charlotte, with excellent musicians John Breese and Joe Tozer, the latter also contributing production expertise.

Arrangements are slick and considered

yet the effect tends to be delightfully sponta- neous. In a nutshell, Cardboard Fox make good capital out of their straightforward fid- dle/guitar/mandolin/bass complement. The songs are economic, artfully observed and characterised, self-assured slices of contem- porary acoustic folk-pop crossed with new- grass, with a genial, relaxed way of leaving an attractive ‘taste’ in the memory. The deli- cious, affectionately old-time feel of Roll Away (the disc’s major earworm) is well com- plemented by the more introspective outings such as Awful As Silence and the richly uphol- stered Until The Dawn. There are just two covers: Gillian Welch’s Tear My Stillhouse Down and Adam Young’s Fireflies. They typify the wide-ranging musical ambit of Cardboard Fox, and the group’s fresh, bright instrumen- tal settings, uncluttered textures and crisp, spirited playing are ideal for their positively- oriented lyrics.

Disappointingly, Topspin yields only one purely instrumental cut, Nelly, which for all its scintillating playing might be described as a thoughtful hoedown.

Like any album, Topspin has its share of

cheeky, seemingly flippant goodtime throw- away numbers (Right Swiper and the swing- ing On Your Side), and the basic sequence doesn’t always quite convince, but the band’s tasty, rootsy musicianship and personable charm tend to win out in the end. David Kidman

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