Quick Take album reviews: The Askew Sisters, MacDonald&Gamauf

The Askew Sisters continue their ”low-key but very intense” forays into the more shady forests of English folk. Enclosure is worthy of its name: a cosmos of it own, inhabited by songs mostly about various injustices, the minimal-yet-strangely-rich arrangements and the strong vocal performances by the sisters.

As on their earlier albums, the overall mood is not necessarily joyous but rather one of sustained tension, as the songs are usually accompanied only by two instruments, with cello, fiddle and accordion the main arsenal they use. Lesser musos would make a bland mess with this bare bones concept but the Sisters somehow create a magnetic, shadowy atmosphere that holds your attention and makes the (mostly sad) stories alive and the instrumental tunes vibrant.

Favorite: My Father Built Me a Pretty Tower – dig how with just a cello and a rhythm instrument (tambourine? chain?) and solo vocal they come up with this lazy but strong groove that carries a lengthy tune.

Jamie MacDonald (fiddle) and Christian Gamauf (pipes) released The Pipe Slang already last year but I was slow to notice at first. I’ve been enjoying it since spring and had the great pleasure of seeing their brilliant gig at HebCelt in the summer.

I won’t analyze the album here but simply wish to note it’s one the most joyful, energetic and fun Scottish trad albums to come out this or the previous year. I’ve enjoyed it repeatedly as it make my foot tap and mood brighten. So just you yourself and favor and get it and, if the guys show up in your area, check them live – they’re just so good 🙂

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