It's a tried and trusted truism that, for musicians, there's no substitute for getting out there and putting in onstage time.

That was borne out here with a first half that hinted at strong potential and a second that in places reached high quality.

Singer-cellist Fiona Hunter and fiddler-guitarist Mike Vass have worked together extensively in the song-based Scottish folk group Malinky.

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Their partnership is a more recent undertaking but one they should persevere with. As Hunter showed in her singing of the False Bride and in her reading of MacCrimmon's Lament, sung just to the drone of her eastern harmonium shruti box, when her voice is warmed up she's at the forefront of the younger generation. Let's say that's the 40 and unders of Scottish traditional singers.

With Vass's often understated creativity setting her singing in its best light, there's much to be admired as they celebrate the ballad tradition with songs gleaned, many of them direct from sources such as the Stewarts of Fetterangus, and given a lightly handled, fresh accompaniment.

Vass's tenor guitar playing especially has an economy of movement that still introduces rich shadings and the Steve Reich-like minimalist mood that he, on fiddle, and Hunter, on cello, added to the Cruel Mother, although it needs a bit more playing-in, was very effective.

Hunter's strengths lie in a vocal tone that she varies to suit the mood of the song while always sounding like the real deal and her ability to project a genuine empathy with the characters she's singing about.

Between them, she and Vass are onto something with real substance.

HHH