(Rusty Squash Horn)
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With remarkably apt timing, just a week after he won the Composer of the Year title at the Scots Trad Music Awards, comes further evidence of Mike Vass's abilities as a tunesmith. Having earned his early reputation as a fiddler in a splendid youthful duo with his pianist sister, Ali, and in Scots song specialists Malinky, Vass has added guitar, cittern, piano, melodica, glockenspiel, percussion and sound sampling to his repertoire on this entirely solo collection, using often quite simple melodies to evoke the various atmospheres associated with December, from the downright wintry to jigging celebration. In several cases these are fairly brief snapshots, occasionally rough-hewn and left undeveloped, but it's all brought to life with considerable charm and character and a variety of sounds that show strong command of the instrumentation. Tracks such as Slide, with its swirling and swelling multi-layered fiddles, and the closing, gently compelling Lights Out particularly suggest that a career in film music could await the talented Mr Vass.