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Ewan MacPherson - Fetch (Shoogle Records)
This masterful instrumental album by Ewan MacPherson (Fribo/Salthouse/RoughCoastAudio/Shooglenifty) brings together a bunch of high quality players that one feels were not picked just because they were close at hand. FETCH showcases the talents of several hand-picked collaborators in order to bring this music alive, music predominantly composed by MacPherson himself, who handles guitar, mandolin, mandola and banjo with equal authority, whilst also taking care of business with a bit of jaw harp and harmonium along the way. If the title isn't adequately explained by the cover shot of Ben the labrador leaping into the lake, then we are reminded of the literal definition, that of bringing something back and also that of a stretch of water 'over which a given wind has blown.' Some of this is evident in the music; the fact that MacPherson has travelled far and wide to discover, then gather the essence of, and finally to re-imagine the feel of that music in his own compositions. Whilst Saltus is every bit influenced by Scandinavian traditional music, with Sigrid Moldestad's hardanger fiddle and Magnus Lundmark's percussion driving the tune along, the Scots influence on such as Dead End Glen is very much in evidence, with the occasional jazzy excursion on such as The Cherry Tree Reel/Dog's Got an Itchy Nose. At times gentle and contemplative, the standard of musicianship leaps and bounces in places, giving the album a vibrant and joyful feel.