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Album Review

The field of young, iconoclastic Celtic bands is getting a bit crowded, but Tarras should be able to step up and take its place without much trouble. Like many of its peers, Tarras is a folk group that doesn't feel terribly bound by tradition. Though its members play the expected array of instruments — cittern, fiddle, guitar, accordion, bass — they're not afraid to use ethnic percussion, and over half of the songs are original compositions (credited to the band as a whole). In fact, it's the three traditional numbers that provide some of the least interesting moments on this program — the album opens with a fairly energetic romp through "Parson's Green," but "Da Fields O'Foula" feels sludgy and forced, and "Captain Grant" never really gets off the ground either. Many of the original tunes are great, though "The Happy Salmon" is something of a tone poem, on which fiddler Emma Hancock skirls off lines that shimmer like fish scales in the sunlight. "Magpie's Revenge" is a gently thumping jig that may or may not be related to the traditional tune "The Thieving Magpie," and the charmingly titled "Men Should Wear Their Long Hair Down" is a jaunty polka in an almost East European-sounding modal key. "Rising" and "Be Real" both could have used some more ideas before being recorded, but this is still an auspicious debut.


Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Tarras is a quintet consisting of Rob Armstrong (cittern), Joss Clapp (guitar, bass, mandolin), Emma Hancock (violin, whistle), Ben Murray (accordion), and Jon Redfern (percussion, guitar); all five sing. Coming from the border of England and Scotland, the group signed to Topic Records and released their debut album, Rising (picked up for...
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Rising, Tarras
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