BREABACH - The Big Spree

BREABACH - The Big Spree
Vertical Records VERTCD081

What a debut!  ‘The Big Spree’ is a swirling collection of stirring tunes and top-notch songs, and the powerhouse instrumentals are a testament to youthful exuberance, burgeoning talent and a total joy to listen to.  The recollection of this band’s superb Celtic Connections set is literally ringing in my ears as I listen to this album.  Breabach is a four-piece band that has attracted the eyes and ears of festival organisers, winning themselves a coveted slot at Cambridge Folk Festival this year.  Readers who’ve heard this band play live will know exactly why, because they hurl their tunes at you with such attack that you need to be ready to steel yourself against their onslaught.  Donal Brown & Calum MacCrimmon between them play Highland bagpipes, flutes and whistles, Patsy Reid plays fiddle, viola and cello, and Ewan Robertson is guitarist, lead vocalist, and what a rich and commanding voice he has.  Patsy too has a lovely, listenable voice, evidenced by her fine interpretation of ‘Lochaber No More.’  Duncan Lyall and Ewen Vernal guest on double bass on various tracks, adding considerable depth to the music. 

Calum and Patsy contribute some cracking tunes themselves, and these are joined by further riches; the outstanding ‘Davy Webster’s’ by the late Gordon Duncan – a magnificent and celebratory tribute to this great piper.  There are reels, strathspeys and jigs by Angus MacDonald, Adam Sutherland, Donald MacLeod, Neil Gow and other fine composers.  Well known traditional tunes sit snugly in the mix too, including ‘The Snuff Wife’, ‘George White’s Favourite’, ‘Brose and Butter’ and ‘Bonnie Isle O’Whalsay.’  Though the pace of the music slows down occasionally, overall it’s a huge sound, bursting with energy, and there will be few who can sit still when listening to these brilliant tunes, brilliantly played. 

An outstanding first album from a fantastic young band.  More power to their elbow for getting it so right so early on in their careers!  

Debbie Koritsas

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