Kinnaris Quintet

Free One

Own label

IT’S easy to understand how the Kinnaris Quintet became excited when they started making the sound that flows through the improvised intro to John Reischman’s bluegrass classic Saltspring. There’s an immediately appealing combination of tension and ease in the coming together of Fiona MacAskill, Laura Wilkie and Aileen Gobbi’s fiddles, Laura-Beth Salter’s mandolin and Jenn Butterworth’s guitar that, along with the players’ natural musical personalities, gives the group its own style.

It’s a style pitched somewhere between the Scottish Highlands and the Appalachians, raw and yet sweetly accomplished, brawny and yet harmonically assured, and with occasional echoes of Steve Reich-like minimalism.

Their first album in a relatively short but eventful history (they played first gig at the end of 2017) Free One opens with Nonna Pina’s lovely deep, atmospheric fiddle statements before hurtling off on the percussive, smartly punctuated Space Ghettos.

As a whole it’s a confident showcase of the wonderful understanding between MacAskill, Wilkie and Gobbi as both the melodic spearhead and tender, unified accompanists and a great example of musicians moving the tradition forward while showing, on the retreat march Mary Binnie, sure appreciation of where it all begins.

Rob Adams