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David Kidman of Net Rythms

reviews Ingleneuk by Hector Gilchrist

This is a genuinely pleasing disc which will satisfy those who appreciate the gentler kind of expression and traditional values simply conveyed. It's an undemanding listen in that it doesn't plumb any intense emotional depths: however, that is not to underestimate its unassuming appeal. Hector is a warm-hearted, warm-voiced performer of long standing, and both of his previous excursions onto disc for WildGoose were conducted as one half of the duo Selkie (in company with Liz Thomson).

His style is soft-hued, sensitive and unhurried, mildly contoured, even a tad undersold perhaps (at least in terms of earthy passion), but always very equable and pleasant, and it's hard to find fault with his approach or his delivery. The CD title Ingleneuk, though taken from the name of Hector's boyhood home in Ayrshire, also most aptly characterises the cosy fireside ambience, glow and intimacy of his performances of these 14 thoughtfully-chosen songs. These embrace a pair of well-loved Jim Reid settings of Violet Jacob poems (Norland Wind and Halloween) and some contemporary classics like Jim Malcolm's Lochanside and Stan Rogers' Lock-keeper, with the surprising inclusion of a couple of Janis Ian songs. In addition, Hector's own dialect composition Lallans Love keeps the old Ayrshire tongue alive, while the ebullient Corn Rigs is a worthy supplement to Hector's earlier CD of Burns songs (The Lea Rig).

I didn't always find Hector's at times rather understated manner entirely convincing in terms of the song he's performing: for example, Davy Steele's Last Trip Home is taken quite briskly, almost too matter-of-factly (or at any rate it feels too easygoing), while Hector's takes on Bogie's Bonnie Belle and Valley Of Strathmore don't seem to significantly stand out from any number of other versions of these well-worn songs.

What does give this CD something more of an edge, though, is the instrumental arrangements, which have been carried out with an abundance of taste and skilled professionalism by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, who also play on the majority of the tracks: Vicki plays small pipes, double bass and flute, Johnny Dyer guitar, piano accordion and piano. Hector also enjoys the benefit of more occasional, though neat and stylish, contributions from Steve Poole (guitar on two tracks) and Paul Sartin (fiddle on one track and some gorgeous oboe traceries on Lockkeeper). Not a disc to set the world alight, then  but that's not its intention, and thus no adverse criticism should be read into my commentary.