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FRIBO - The Ha' o' Habrahellia

FRIBO - The Ha' o' Habrahellia
Fellside FECD205

This fresh young trio plays mainly Norwegian music and songs from the rich vocal and fiddle traditions of the fjords.  Vocalist Anne Sofie Linge Valdal (just one person) and fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers provide a Nowegian-Scottish front line backed by Englishman Ewan MacPherson on guitars and stuff.  Apart from some backing vocals and percussion, this is pretty much a three-person album.  Anne Sofie has a strong clear voice, and is well supported by Sarah-Jane and Ewan on vocals.  The fiddle leads on a handful of the fourteen tracks here, including the one straight Scottish track, a set of three pipe marches in a lovely relaxed fiddling style.
The textures are surprisingly rich for a trio.  Three-part vocal harmonies with fiddle continuo work very well for the Norwegian melodies.  Many of the lyrics are just fragments, so the instrumental breaks are often the meat of the arrangement.  From the wildness of Hei Huskom i Hei to the soulful sweetness of Ned i Vester, from cowcalls to bawdy ballads, Fribo cover a wide range of songs with skill and charm.  The instrumental sets are fewer, but Ms Summers has an easy graceful style and she is nicely accompanied by Mr MacPherson: Hardanger Set adds gutsy guitar to the ringing strings of Norwegian fiddling, and there's plenty of wee tunes fitted nicely around the words. I wasn't keen on the two English songs, one a translation of a Finnish poem and the other an old Lancashire ditty of uncertain origins.  That aside, there's fifty minutes of fine music in the other twelve tracks, music with a refreshing tang and a keen edge. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 73 of The Living Tradition magazine.