Big Spree

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The debut from Breabach marks them firmly as a Scottish band, and not merely because of the double bagpipe lineup. From the strathspeys and reels to the stirring marches and the airs, they play with Highland fire and verve, whether looking back on the tradition or performing their original material, which blends in perfectly, as you'd expect from a young band that includes a pair of Young Scottish Traditional Musicians of the Year. Perhaps surprisingly, the pipes never seem to dominate (perhaps because both pipers double on whistles), and Patsy Reid's strings -- she plays violin, viola, and cello -- are much to the front, while Ewan Robertson provides a strong presence on guitar and vocals. They're wonderful on the faster material, kicking in with a stirring march, but they also have the finesse to put across an air like "Hector the Hero" with delicacy and emotion, while the gorgeous "Lochaber No More" (with Reid singing) is an ancient melody that comes alive anew in their hands before they close the disc with a tumult of dance music that roars out of the speakers. On the basis of this, Breabach look set to become a major force in Scottish music very quickly.

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