The Road To Hammer Junkie
It's five years since Orkney eight-piece juggernaut The Chair released their first album, Huinka, and a similar time has elapsed since they won the Folk Band of the Year title at the Scots Traditional Music Awards. Few would have begrudged them that success on the strength of their ruggedly energetic, musically accomplished live performances, but the dynamism they bring to the live arena doesn't always translate on to their recordings. They're apt to slip into four-square (albeit well-played) folk-rock a bit too often here and the tracks that go against that grain, such as the mobile, Fiddlers' Bid-like Humours and The Dark Maid, with its soaring, swooping jazz-bluegrass fiddle break, are the ones that make you want to listen to them again. The varied dynamics, epic construction and intricate Eastern European dance metre of Armenian and the sheer good-time fun and swing of The Skatehorn Ceilidh Band (one of two songs in the set alongside the Appalachian-flavoured The Hamars o' Syradale) are other highlights.