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Laura Cortese Laura Cortese
Album: All In Always
Label: Cortese
Tracks: 9

Boston-based fiddler/vocalist and song-writer Laura Cortese has established a reputation as one of the busiest on the circuit, being highly in demand as a musical partner and collaborator while all the time making her own music both solo and more often with her band The Dance Cards. The latter, livewire string quartet have gleaned countless accolades for their music, which they describe as being "bold and elegant, schooled in the lyrical rituals of folk and backed by grooves that alternately inspire Cajun two-stepping and rock 'n' roll swagger."

Here Laura steps out solo to produce an album of fiddle-led instrumental music, made in three separate locations, with three different international sets of musician friends, in Spain, Sweden and Quebec.

Laura explains: "Music is a shared experience, depending on who I share my music with a decidedly different outcome is created. For years I've flirted with the idea of writing an entirely instrumental album. In June 2014, inspired by all night jam sessions and the euphoric sunrises that followed them, I channeled my burgeoning admiration into writing fiddle tunes and began making plans for an overseas adventure to Spain, Sweden and Quebec."

The outcome is an enigmatic, inspiring and impressive collection of music. Despite the trio of sources, which are deliberately jumbled up in the track listing, although the sleeve notes helpfully clarify which are which, the self-produced album hangs together superbly. Laura's sublime fiddle is always to the fore, while the respective groups of session musicians each provide global sounds which have qualities both distinct and shared.

The choice of instrumentation is worldly and inspired too. The Spanish session for example includes a hurdy gurdy, evident on the haunting 'Ondas E Chairas', and the Quebec session a jaw harp and podorythymie, a specifically Québécois method of foot-tapping traditionally used as an accompaniment to fiddle music. The cello is used evocatively on the album's opening tune, the intriguingly titled 'Naked In Nigardsvatnet', while fiddle and simple strummed guitar feature on several tracks to simple but great effect, not least 'Right Where You Want Me'.

As Laura explains: "This is a labour of love. The moments captured are unadulterated. This is something I want to share. because I'm in love with inspiration and creativity. Because I am in love with connecting with people over common interests. Because I love existing in a community of people who want to share those moments."

This is indeed an album full of love and joy, which will set hearts a glowing and feet a-tapping, and not just in time with the podorythymie.

All In ALways will be launched during Glasgow's Celtic Connections Festival in January, where Laura will be appearing solo (Saturday 21 January, 8pm, Tron Theatre).

Ian Taylor