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EABHAL - This Is How The Ladies Dance 

EABHAL - This Is How The Ladies Dance 
Private Label EAB01 

Eabhal is a new young Scottish band based on South Uist (although they take their name from a distinctive hill on North Uist). Their debut CD reflects why they were nominated for the Up & Coming Artist category of the 2018 Scots Trad Music Awards. It features a good range of self-penned and traditional material, blending Gaelic song and melodic tunes sourced from the island’s Gaelic traditions, all dispatched with a sparkling youthful elan. The band’s line-up ranges right across the instrumental spectrum, featuring Highland pipes/flute/whistle, fiddle, accordion and guitar, and this complement is selectively and sensitively utilised to support Kaitlin Ross’s confident lead vocal on four of the album’s 10 tracks.

Eabhal display an intelligent and considered approach to the use of texture, and even when all instruments are playing the ensemble doesn’t feel cluttered. There’s plenty of rhythmic drive on the faster-paced sets, and they can relax convincingly too (although perhaps a little too much on Hamish Napier’s 3/4 strathspey, Windsong). The MaSim tune set is particularly arresting; it consists entirely of tunes composed by fiddler Jamie MacDonald (a quickstep and a pair of reels), and the sense of momentum it springs is infectious. The vocal selections are enticing too, although the production tends to emphasise the coquettishly breathy tone of Kaitlin’s voice at the expense of its potential expressive impact. It’s a shame, but I do believe her talent is under-used generally, since she plays no other part in the band’s performance and thus is completely absent for much of the time.

All in all, Eabhal show much promise here, but I can’t help feeling they could make even more of the myriad of special talents within the band.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.