Debut Abum review by Rob Adams- The Herald
The unpromisingly titled Onions is one example of fiddler Charlie Stewart hiding his light under a bushel and the catch-all opening track’s name, Reels, is another but Onions already has some history behind it, being one of the items that Stewart played in his marvellously expressive, victorious set in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year final in February.
Snuffbox are Perthshire-born Stewart, cellist Rufus Huggan and guitarist-vocalist Luc McNally and as with the fiddler’s Young Trad appearance, this, their debut album sings with energy, vitality, rugged adventure and sweet musicality.
Far from the nondescript set its name might suggest, Reels showcases the trio’s strong collective personality brilliantly, with Stewart displaying passion and daring variations and the three instruments variously taking turns as the lead voice, racing off in invigorating unison or offering superbly effective harmonic support.
Yer Maw’s finds the trio in wilfully, and quite intoxicating, adventurous mode and McNally contributes the sensitively sung Down the River and Sleeping Stars. It’s Onions, however, that offers the killer entry point as Stewart’s affecting lament-like slow air develops into the kind of melodic teasing and dramatic pacing that Martin Hayes has turned into an art form.
Anne Lacey’s (L. Carroll)/Johnny Willmott’s Fiddle (Trad)/The Girls at Martinfield (P. Cunningham)
2. Playing for Free
Playing for Free (R. Huggan/C. Irving/C. Stewart)
Unknown Jig (Trad)/Brian O’Lynn (Trad)
4. Chazza’s Circus
Whistle O’er the Love o’ It (Trad)/Charlie Stewart’s (M. Fielding)
5. Lucy’s 25
Lucy’s Lament (R. Huggan)/Feis Rois 25 (L. MacColl)
6. A Harsh February
A Harsh February (P. Cunningham)
7. Down The River
Down The River
Onions (C. Stewart)/I Ne’er Shall Wean Her (Trad)
9. Yer Maw’s
Yer Maw’s (R. Huggan/C. Stewart)/Dawted Mary (Trad)
10. Sleeping Stars
Recorded at Carrier Waves, Glasgow
Engineered, Produced – Iain Copeland, Skye records.
Mastered by Skye Mastering
© Skye Records 2017