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CHRIS STOUT QUINTET - Devil's Advocate

CHRIS STOUT QUINTET - Devil's Advocate
Greentrax CDTRAX305

Chris Stout's debut album was always going to be a hard act to follow.  Devil's Advocate does a pretty good job, but despite the extra four musicians it doesn't quite have the wow factor of First o' the Darkening. This is still a very fine recording: the title track and the set of Shetland reels pack a fair punch, and the kick-start to Aith Rant is superb. Mr Stout can also spot a good tune from other traditions: Lorient est Grand and Talaimh an Éisc both provide the finishing flourish for Chris' own compositions. The final track, Dynröst, is a beauty too, with Catriona McKay's harp and Fraser Fifield's sax contributing to the full atmospheric sound. There's first class accompaniment throughout from Malcolm Stitt and Neil Harland on guitar and double bass.

So what didn't I like? Not too much, really. The overlong introduction to Bambodansarna which in itself is a splendid melody. The similarly lengthy lead-in to Nanny and Andrew. The fact that Auld Swarra is polished off in under three minutes, a brusque dismissal of this grand old Shetland air. Slightly too much sax, and not quite enough of Chris Stout's fiddle. These minor criticisms, and a couple of tracks which didn't grab me, make the difference between Devil's Advocate being a "nice-to-have" and a "must-have" CD. Still well worth a listen, though.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 75 of The Living Tradition magazine.