Personnel: Aly Bain (fiddle); Phil Cunningham (cittern, whistle, accordion, piano, keyboards); Willie Johnson (guitar); M irt¡n O'Connor (accordion); Violet Tulloch (piano).
As a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham have developed a remarkable empathy over the years, and the ability to come up with some remarkable melodies, the best of which, like the beautiful "Sarah's Song," are included here. Their Scots-based music usually has a lovely lilt, based around the ceilidh, as on "The Jig Runrig." While most of these pieces will be familiar to those who own their albums, there are some lovely early pieces, like a couple of tracks from a 1988 television show. Both the headliners get to showcase their talents, but even on a glorious slow air like "Violet Tulloch Queen of Lerwick" they never forget that their music is for dancing. They cover the full range of Scotland, from the Shetlands even down across the border into Northumbria, with a small detour to French Canada for a set of tunes and America for "Waiting for the Federals" (one of the new recordings, along with a take on Robert Burns' "A Man's a Man for A' That"). They're well grounded, as comfortable with traditional material as their own compositions. It's a testament to their musicality that the melodies shine through so brightly on everything and that there's such a loving beauty to it all. ~ Chris Nickson