There is an immediate sense of energy and a passion for music-making obvious right from the beginning of In Balance, the debut album from Scottish guitarist Steve Crawford and German fiddler Sabrina Palm. The opening number, the Broken Doll set, is lively and joyful with superb playing from Palm sophisticatedly accompanied by Crawford.
Crawford also showcases his voice on tracks such as Twa Corbies / Rabenballade, which recognises the two artists’ distinct but similar heritages by combining Scots and German in the words of this old folk song, which exists in both languages. Crawford’s voice manages to be both melodious and coarse, while maintaining a very distinct Scottish edge, even when he sings in German, and this combination is perfect for this song.
The album continues much in this vein with a combination of vocal and instrumental numbers, some traditional, and some self-penned by the duo. A particular highlight in the latter category is Crawford’s composition Hope Remains, a gorgeous ballad which suits his voice perfectly. Again, Palm’s accompaniment is tasteful and skilful.
This is an excellent example of the pair’s softer side, and another occurs with the fantastic waltz Oh My Lover, with beautiful vocal harmonies and more superb fiddle playing. The brilliant slow playing also extends to the instrumentals, on tracks such as Ljubljana and the opening of the wonderfully titled Mrs. Garden Campbell of Troup and Glenlyon’s Strathspey.
Overall In Balance is a highly successful debut, highlighting the many and varied talents of this exciting duo. It will be very interesting to see what they do next!Will Wilkins
Self-released December 2015
1. Broken Doll / The Gladstone / The Tatnuck Magnet
2. Twa Corbies / Rabenballade
3. Ljubljana / The Kilbrandon Jig / Ormond Sound
4. Hope Remains
5. Farewell Rory / Mr. Brennan’s Psychological Problems / Cup of Tea
6. Oh My Lover / A Waltz
7. Mrs. Garden Campbell of Troup and Glenlyon’s Strathspey / Empty Again / The Barrowburn
8. Mill O’Tifty’s Annie
9. The Session Night / For the Love of Music / Crisps On the Drive
10. The Bonny House of Airlie
11. My Bonny Laddie Has Won My Heart