Catriona McKay - Starfish (4 stars)

(Glimster Records)

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Catriona McKay - Starfish

FOLK

Fresh from her triumph in winning the Instrumentalist of the Year award at the Scots Trad Music Awards in early December, harpist Catriona McKay’s debut solo album confirms her high standing among those in the harp world know. Best recognised as a member of Fiddlers’ Bid, the Dundee-born harpist steps front and centre on this disc, which takes its name from the instrument she plays on half of the tracks.

The Starfish McKay harp was developed with Starfish Designs in Ballachulish, and employs an unusual tuning. Its brighter sonority contrasts nicely with the more conventional harp sound on the remaining tracks, augmented at various points by fiddle, guitar, bass, a string section and Alistair MacDonald’s laptop creations. Her experimental approach to sound is beguilingly contemporary, but her melodic and rhythmic approach maintains clear connections with her roots in traditional music.

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