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The Outside Track The Outside Track
Album: Rise Up
Label: Copperplate
Tracks: 11

Having established themselves as a constant presence on the international traditional music scene over the past 11 years, the Outside Track bring us their fifth studio album, Rise Up. Multi-award winning both as individuals and a collective, the talent and musicianship of this band is without question. With their latest offering the band have showcased the talents of female writers, featuring the works of Emily Smith, Jenna Reid and Lauren MacColl, as well as the bands own compositions.

The songs all feature the crystal clear vocals of Teresa Horgan, with excellent delivery throughout. The evocative and haunting Lady Diamond and Eleanor Plunkett showcase the groups arranging skills to create really emotive versions of both these beautiful songs. The Wife of Usher's Well is an American influenced take on a much collected traditional song. A more uplifting choice is The Banks of Sweet Dundee. Not only is it a rare folk song with a happy ending but the band have created an arrangement full of life and vitality. The standout song however is Emily Smith's Sweet Lovuëer of Mine. Originally featured on the 2011 release, Traiveller's Joy, this is a beautiful melody for a set of older lyrics that suits Teresa's voice perfectly.

While the song choices offer a lot of variety of colour and character, the tune sets are all faster paced, showcasing the musical virtuosity of this group. The Dark Reels sees Aillie Robertson's intricate reel Craigard seamlessly drift into Lauren MacColls more insistent And sheep will eat men before increasing the intensity again with another of Ailllie's tunes, Gaït Genouël's reel. The tune writing skills of Teresa Horgan and Fiona Black are both heard in The Wahoo set, while Mairi Rankin's can be heard in the Happy Reels. The Road to Rollo Bay is a lovely set of jigs, well-paced and cleverly arranged. The harp is particularly noticeable in this arrangement both as a melody and accompaniment. The Queen of Rangoon is from the flute and whistle virtuoso Brian Finnegan and is a fantastic standalone reel.

Overall, this is a well thought out album with something for everyone. If you like strong instrumentals and traditional songs with a twist then this album delivers both with ease. The band is on tour from the end of January, covering the UK, US, Canada and Germany so worth catching if they are playing near you.

Nicky Grant