Freya Rae & Louis BinghamFreya Rae & Louis Bingham
Album: Curlicue
Label: Waulk
Tracks: 12

It is very rare to hear a purely instrumental album. As an instrumentalist myself I understand the pressure to include vocals, in order to appeal to a wider market. How refreshing then to find a young duo with the confidence to produce an album that is full of varied and colourful instrumental tracks from start to finish. From the strong rhythmic impetus of the opening Foorglass Set to the lyrical original guitar solo Farewell Monty, the standard of musicianship is truly exceptional.

A fantastic addition to their sound is Freya's clarinet playing. The tone is such a contrast to the flute and the choice of tunes to use it on really lend themselves to the slightly smoother sound quality. Its first outing is on Freya's own tune and the title track Curlicue. Changing from flute to clarinet mid-set guarantees the listener stays engaged to the end and there's a really playful quality to Curlicue that is both lively and endearing. The clarinet also partners the flute beautifully in Treujenn Gaol, with the two instrumental lines weaving in and out of one another.

While the album is predominantly the duo, there are a few guest appearances that really add that little extra sparkle. The fantastically vibrant fiddle playing of Eryn Rae on the Kitchen Jigs, the haunting Tambura melody provided by Freya's dad Paul on Freya's Waltz and the ethereal Nyckelharpa of Griselda Sanderson on the Guitar Hornpipes are perfectly judged and sympathetically blend with the overall sound of the album.

My favourite track on the album is Hopsa and Plinn, a lovely grouping of Danish and Breton dance tunes that I'm going to have to sit down and learn. Overall, this is a wonderfully balanced album with a lovely mix of traditional material alongside some strong original works. I am looking forward to an opportunity to see them live.

Nicky Grant

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