HAREM SCAREM - Storm In A Teacup

HAREM SCAREM - Storm In A Teacup
Vertical Records VERTCD086

Now a four-piece since the departure of flautist Nuala Kennedy, this new album shows the group’s dichotomy, with songs and tunes almost seeming to come from different bands, although as expected from this bunch all of it superbly played.  The tunes are newly-composed, but stick fairly closely to traditional Scottish models - plenty of zip and life, some Cuban rhythms (El Cumbanchero) and a bit of a shock when a well-known Scott Skinner tune suddenly appears, whilst the songs are a particularly Scottish take on what I would think of as Americana (Scotiana?).  More James Yorkton than Jimmy McBeath, as is only expected from a band who toured accompanying "Bonnie" Prince Billy (check that album out – ‘Is It The Sea’ for their wonderful version of 'Molly Bawn' - I wonder whether that was their idea or Oldham's?).  Both sides of the coin are beautifully done, although the breathy, childlike vocals may be a bit of an acquired taste (try their version of  ‘Is It The Sea' - beautiful and wistful).  As you only get 46 minutes here, if you only like one side of the band repertoire it's quite expensive, but having heard it a few times it's one I shall certainly be returning to.

Paul Burgess

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