Laebrack was the our first album together as duo in 2005. Here we were making music together but also laying bare on CD our first explorations into the possibilities of the what these wonderful instruments were capable of with each other.
Laebrack is the old Shetland word for the surf as it hits the shore. The ‘Souch o’ da Laebrack’, the sound of an intake of breath as the surf pulls away from the shore line.
1. Smugglers - 7:39
2. Hangman’s Reel - 4:40
3. The Black Ship - 4:39
4. Spöndrift/Souch o’ da Laebrack - 4:04
5. Turns - 7:38
6. Bride’s March - 4:38
7. End of the Line/Willie Smith’s - 4:07
8. Da Shaalds o’ Foula - 2:31
8. Eileen’s Lament - 4:31
Harper Catriona McKay and fiddlers Chris Stout have been working together for more than 10 years, during which they have developed individually and as a duo to the extent that, with McKay's nimble elegance and Stout’s stirring tone and masterful touch, they are operating at a rarefied level of expertise.
These nine tracks are all of high quality but, at seven minutes-plus each, the traditional Shetland selection, Smugglers, and the Romany-influenced Turns show just how naturally the pair sustain the invention and sense of enquiry that can completely reinvigorate old tunes and personalise newer ones, creating in the former case s mini-epic that blends craggy, elemental intensity with graceful eloquence while never losing sight of the music’s origins.
The Glasgow Herald, Nov. 2005, Rob Adams
When Shetland reels pony up alongside Romany-tinged jazz confections, you're either tiptoeing in schizoid terrain or exposing your eardrums to musicians conversant with more than the dialect of home. McKay and Stout do for fiddle and harp what Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill have done for fiddle and guitar: stripping bare old tunes and not so much composing new ones as conjuring them from a divine concoction of tradition and bold imagination. Hangman's Reel epitomises the pair's downright boldness with its sensual, throaty fiddle lines redefining the shape of the tune, reminiscent of what De Danann did with Handel's music two decades ago. McKay's harp is deliciously angular and haughty, particularly on her original Spöndrift, as fluidly dispersed as the sea spray from which it borrows its title. Unimpeachable.
The Irish Times, Nov. 2005, Siobhán Long