Kinnaris Quintet – This Too: Album Review

Second album from Kinnaris Quintet pushes their signature joie de vivre into the stratosphere.

Release Date: 4th May 2022

Label: self-released

Format: digital / CD / stream

What was it that Emperor Joseph II supposedly said to poor old Wolfgang after the first performance of the Entfuhrung aus dem Serail – “Too many notes, dear Mozart, too many notes…” To put the record straight, we’re of the opinion that you can never have too many notes. Particularly when they’re played rapidly (what the Metalheads would call ‘shredding’) on acoustic guitars and fiddle by as many people as possible. Kinnaris Quintet may only number five but (a) the ratio of player to notes is a pretty high one, and (b) they make one heck of a joyful noise.

Each track collects a set of tunes gathered from sources near, far and wide, which are detailed in the sleeve notes and too numerous to mention here. Suffice to mention in dispatches the nods to the Elephant Sessions lads that comes in 48FPs (‘something’ per second I’ll wager…and with the photographer’s hat on, ‘frames’ would be some going…) and to Weather Report whose Birdland – the one we all know – gets “a wee musical nod.” Oh and keeping up the Metal references, Mike Salter’s desire to have his brain melted is acknowledged in Radge Against The Machine. Anyway…

Kicking the doors down with Wonderful – lots of notes played very quickly here and as uplifting as it gets with knowing smiles all around I’m guessing – it fits the ‘reason we all listen to folk music’ billing. Festival dance tent material at its finest. Burdland, similarly is prime material for those festival fields and tents a dancing and if you weren’t aware that Joe Zawinul’s famous melody had been ‘nodded to’, the arrangement will have you scratching your head with the earworm forevermore. Perhaps the star turn of the uptempo tune sets – personal preference if you will – is the title track. Not quite as frantic for those of us with old bones, the philosophy that hard times will pass and taking the chance to cherish the good times is expressed in a healthy dollop of musical positivity.

This too isn’t all fiddle, guitar and mandolin string fury though. One trick pony? No chance. there’s enough subtlety and emotion to offer some respite from the breathtaking energy expounded elsewhere. Period Drama is straight out of Downton and Overnight To Halifax is as romantic a piece as you can imagine bidding a farewell to Nova Scotia rather than West Yorkshire. While the previously mentioned Radge Against The Machine sounds a bit more bluesy and early Tull-y than Morello-y (new word there??), the brief intervals of sawing fiddle threaten before being reined in. It’s left to Fiona MacAskill’s Kathleen MacDonald’s (work that out if you can…) to induce the swinging of the pants with some snaking fiddle lines.

The names of Laura-Beth Salter, Aileen Reid, Laura Wilkie, Jenn Butterworth and Fiona MacAskill may well be familiar to many in some of their other guises and bands, but as a combo, Kinnaris Quinte may be the outlet here the sum of the parts gives a mighty total. We’ve mentioned the equation before where a band has an embarrassment of riches, but make no apologies for wheeling out the phrase again.

Hardly a surprise, short odds indeed, that This Too turns out a rattlingly good listen; a set to cherish and more notes than you can shake a stick at and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing them play at the “gender-balanced” 2022 Underneath The Stars Festival – here’s a taste of what to expect:

Kinnaris Quintet online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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