Ailie Robertson - First Things First (4 stars)

(Lorimer Records)


Edinburgh harpist Ailie Robertson has picked up an armload of prizes at successive National Mods, but that should not lead you to expect a very traditional approach to what is arguably the most traditional of all Scottish folk instruments. The harpist is pushing the instrument in fresh and contemporary-sounding musical directions, and this debut recording confirms the major promise that she has shown.

Her lovely, evocative execution of slow airs is particularly impressive, but she is equally intent on underlining the fact that the harp is also an appropriate vehicle for flying jigs, reels and polkas, all dispatched in vibrant, sure-fingered style. She is supported by a fine band featuring James Ross on piano, Ewan Robertson on guitar, Duncan Lyall on bass and Paul Jennings on percussion. They are an effective foil to her own expressive interpretations and virtuoso technique as lead instrumentalist.

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