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REAL TIME - Border Skies

REAL TIME - Border Skies
Big Sky Music BS129

It’s always good to hear from this acclaimed cross-Borders trio, and each successive release has moved their accomplishment on into new realms of creativity, either in bringing fresh perspectives to better-known material or in communicating the thrill of discovery of unfamiliar repertoire.  And it’s a pleasure to be able to report that, like its predecessor Home Thoughts, Border Skies ticks both boxes with distinction, due in no small measure to the skill and musicianship of the participants (Judy Dinning, Tom Roseburgh and Kenny Speirs), who are on splendid form once again.  Old favourites which are given a gently invigorating Real Time makeover this time round include Bonny At Morn, Water Of Tyne and Red Is The Rose (which I was surprised to learn was a recent discovery for the trio), while Judy turns in a particularly persuasive rendition of Once I Loved (aka. Go And Leave Me) and Kenny’s well-matured take on Richard Thompson’s Waltzing’s For Dreamers was indeed worth waiting for.  RT’s Wall Of Death also receives a very attractive performance (Fiona Cuthill guesting on fiddle here).  Elsewhere, there’s a revisit (with completely new arrangement) of Judy’s own composition Sail Fair, which Real Time had previously recorded on their debut CD. 

The disc’s biggest successes, however, arguably lie in the less familiar items.  One special highlight is the stirring Chuck Fleming/Gerry Kaley composition Shake Loose The Border (which is inventively preceded by an atmospheric Billy Pigg tune played by guest musician Stevie Lawrence on the Scottish small pipes), another is Kenny’s heartfelt version of John Munro’s The Border. And it’s no wonder that Judy’s sensitive interpretation of Burns’ Elibanks And Elibraes is already a hit at Real Time’s live performances, as is her emotional delivery of Charlie Dore’s I’m Looking For My Own Lone Ranger (this last-mentioned song only serves to emphasise Judy’s tremendous knack for finding songs which really suit her voice and singing style).  In its totality, this genuinely inspired and well-balanced disc is another triumph for Real Time, in terms both of performance standard and ever-canny choice of material, and will further consolidate their reputation I’m sure.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 82 of The Living Tradition magazine.