Listening to the Solasta EP without knowing anything about the group, you don’t know how many people are playing. It turns out there are only three. No guest musicians, with almost all the tunes played by the award-winning fiddler Elisabeth Flett. It’s the combination of Hannah Thomas’ deep, booming cello filling your ears and Jamie Leeming’s animated guitar which trick you into believing the texture is thicker.
The jazz harmony of the opening track, The Cowslip Set, is driven by Leeming, who graces it with an excellent solo, while this alternates with sections which suggest baroque influences thanks to the beautiful continuo-style cello from Thomas. Rarely stopping, Flett’s fiddle links this all, and makes six and a half minutes pass quickly.
Neither cello nor guitar fall into the trap of simply marking the harmony and hiding behind the fiddle, however. In Stout’s Trip, great counterpoint and jazz harmony work together, with every instrument as important as the next. Similarly, in The Sea Set, the cello is perhaps most prominent. While very little is ornamented, the accentuation is spot on. However, the sections flow slightly less well in this track, as a harsh guitar break follows the lush strings.
This EP is virtuosic, exciting and full in sound. The three distinct influences - the early music, the traditional and the jazz - are all played stunningly. As they play more, the sounds will weave to support their commanding tune playing.Dan Simpson
Self-released on 19 April 2016.
Engineered by Stuart Hanna at Stage 2000.
Cover photo by Oliver Muxworthy.
Cover Artwork by Jamie Leeming and Elisabeth Flett.
1. The Cowslip: Sawdl y Fuwch / The Highlander’s Farewell / The Rights Of Man
2. The Sea Set: Sea Song / The Manstealer
3. The Cecil Sharp Set: Neil Gow’s Lament On The Death Of His Second Wife / Stompin’ Laura / Farewell To Chernobyl
4. The Swan Set: Swan LK243 / Tam Lin / Catharsis
5. Stout’s Trip