Brolum,
The Fair Face I Never Saw
(self-produced, 2004)

The sheer flair of the instrumental tracks, and Kathleen Graham's stunning Gaelic vocals make me wonder if this young, very exciting band has the sort of potential to become the new Capercaillie. Then I listen to Andy Webster's richly Scots-accented vocals, and find myself making mental comparisons to Malinky.

The arrangements are bursting with drive and energy -- and the choice of material is spot on. Here you'll find covers of tunes by Rory Campbell, Aidan O'Rourke, many traditional tunes and songs -- all successfully combined with the band's original music.

Musically, it's a dazzling cornucopia of blissful, heady Celtic sounds -- fiddles, clarsach, whistles, Scottish small pipes, bouzouki, guitars and piano. It's all rounded off by a superb rhythm section -- Martin O'Neill is mesmerising to witness on bodhran with his powerfully rhythmic playing, and Duncan Lyall is a stunning bassist -- check out his pulsating intro to the puirt a beul!

Kathleen Graham (from Skye) recently replaced Julie Fowlis (Dochas) on lead vocals. She has a wonderful voice for singing puirt, and I could listen to "The Fantastic Breeks" all day -- it's a truly fabulous arrangement. The instrumentals are absolute stunners "Soymilk Sivy" (featuring O'Rourke's instantly recognizable "Waves of Rush") is the epitome of this band's potential -- whistles, fiddle, accordion, guitars and more swept along by the tightest, most precise rhythmic flow -- breathtaking, especially when those pipes are cranked up to make for the grandest and loudest of entries! Same goes for "Dinna Get a Boose On" -- it's a staggeringly enjoyable instrumental, kicking up all the potent vibe of a Finlay MacDonald Band set.

A guest string ensemble is put to sublime use on a couple of tracks, in particular "Smiler," where it augments the sparkling beauty of Graham's clarsach and Webster's guitar-playing. There's a wonderful male/female vocal sparring match on "Lovers' Tiff."

Recommended to any reader looking out for young, exciting, upcoming Celtic bands -- take it from me; they sound GREAT, both live and on this recording. I like to play this one very loud!

- Rambles
written by Debbie Koritsas
published 28 May 2005