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Talking To Fara

Fatea writer Nic Rigby chats to the highly rated quartet

The first time I saw Orkney folk band Fara was at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2015, where they wooed the crowd with their infectious mix of fiddle tunes and songs.

The band, made up of fiddlers Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price and pianist Jennifer Austin - who can also play a mean fiddle if needed - released their second album last year. The album has picked up a number of plaudits with Folk Radio saying it had all the "ingredients for a perfect album".

When I caught up with them, I wanted to talk about the album Times From Times Fall - which came out at the end of last year. Its title comes from Scottish poet the world famous Edwin Muir.

Jeana told me: "We wanted to write an album together and challenge ourselves in writing as a unit, as an entity. We really worked hard at doing lots of co-writes together."
The group wanted to get together in the same room together to compose.
Jen said: "We took ourselves a way up north and wrote a lot and each of us have our tunes that we've written but the majority, and the songs, well the melodies, we wrote together. Yeah, it's interesting writing together, challenging and really fun."

I asked the group about some of their favourite songs from the album.

Kristin said: "I do have a favorite but it's gonna sound bad because I wrote the tune. But that is absolutely not why I like it.
"The reason I like it is because we put this arrangement to it where there's a bit of a riff. It's the track, it's called "Simple Dirt."
"Jen wrote the first tune and it's just really grungy and well, clue's in the name, pretty dirty and you just can't help but kind of move to it and then we go into this tune that everybody sort of hates because it was so difficult to record, which was my tune.
"It was the moment in the album where we just let loose and sang and played at the same time, and screamed even."
Photocredit Neil KingCatriona added: "It was the last thing we did in the studio it was just Fara therapy."

I asked Catriona what her favourite track was?

"I like bits of all of them, well I like them all. But there's favourite moments in a lot of them," she said.
"But at the moment, I'm really enjoying the track which starts with Jen's tune Miss Rosa and then goes on to a tune that I wrote called Vintage Pals and ends with Jeana's tune Upside Down Under. "I really like the build in Jeana's tune and the arrangement we got for the parts and stuff, just really pleased with how they worked out. And it's really fun to play, yeah. And it's really happy as well. A really happy little set."

Jen said her favourite was The Port Polka. "I think it was the first tune that we've written altogether," she said.
The tune leads on to Rognvald Ritch, the Little which Jen said was "quite tricky to play. And then it goes into a really great tune by Harv which is called The Shore which just has a really, really fun bounce to it and I really like playing it".

Jeana said: "Like Catriona, I like them all but I think from a song perspective, my favourite one maybe is a poem by a lady called Christina Costie and from Westray, one of our small islands.
"I was interested by the fact that it's obviously a different dialect."
"We just wrote this melody together. I suppose it's a sort of ballad about lost love. But in this song, the way we like to see it, the heroine she basically decides to say, well she doesn't really mind if the person's gone and it's not gonna bother her.
"And instead of pining after him she tells the people, it's in Arcadian dialect as well, and when folks say, 'Oh where's Johnny gone,' she's like, 'Well ask the wind but don't bother asking me cos' I don't know, and the wind will find him for you'."

Fara can be seen live at gigs in Scotland and England in October and December.

(Nic Rigby is part of the band Nic Norton and the County Band. See

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