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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

CATRIONA McKAY & CHRIS STOUT

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published June 27, 2006

Laebrack
Greentrax

Catriona McKay, a harpist, and Stout, a fiddler, have been working together for 10 years or so, either as a duo or as members of the seven-piece Shetland band Fiddlers’ Bid, and Stout is also a member of Salsa Celtica. Laebrack, the duo’s first album, features original compositions as well as some traditional favorites. “Hangman’s Reel,” for example, leads off with Stout playing a stark but dazzling fiddle before McKay joins in, the two of them building momentum as the tune progresses. The title track, which refers to the Shetland term for surf, features a medley of two evocative tunes, each written by one of the players. The aptly titled “Turns,” a tune by jazz guitarist Graeme Stephen, is replete with unusual twists and turns. The graceful airs on Laebrack are played with great finesse but they’re a little more of an acquired taste. For invigorating high energy music, fiddle fans would be better off searching out Fiddlers’ Bid albums or maybe even Stout’s 2004 debut First O’ The Darkenin’, one of the finest Scottish fiddle albums of recent years.