Gordon Johnston of Lancashire Wakes
reviews Scatter Pipes by Vicki Swan & Jonny DyerI checked the artistes website to find out more about them and can inform you that Vicki Swan has been described as the principal exponent of the Scottish Smallpipes south of the border, and that her spellbindingly beautiful style is perfectly complemented by Jonnys driving guitar style. In fact, between them they play a variety of instruments with Vicki on smallpipes, flute, double bass, and Jonny on guitar and accordion. As if that wasnt enough, they both sing as well!
The majority of tunes on the album are composed by Jonny and there are only a few traditional pieces, Including the Scott Skinner chestnut Hector The Hero. Vickis playing is indeed a delight to listen to as she weaves her way through a varied selection of traditional sounding tunes. Being something of a traditionalist I particularly enjoyed the opening tracks of three Scottish reels ? Donald Macleods, Stornoway Castle and Sandy Duff. This set clearly demonstrates Vickis mastery of the instrument and sets the standard for all that follows. And what follows is a delightful programme of piping and singing.
It might seem a bit odd that a guitarist should take it upon himself to compose tunes for the smallpipes but it pays off here. Most of the tunes on the CD are Jonnys compositions and are varied in style and tempo, allowing Vickis playing to shine throughout. We have everything from waltzes to reels, the syncopated The Three Ashes, and the rhythmically odd The Bulgarian Bandit with its missing semi-quaver (designed I believe to confuse pesky bodhran players). Jonny himself is a very tasty guitar player indeed. He plays very much in the choppy, modern style but it perfectly complements Vickis piping.
I particularly enjoyed the solo guitar intro to the `slow pastoral melody Cartmel Fell - a tune named in honour of that South Lakeland hill (which I fully intend to climb sometime...) There is some lovely slow piping in the Lament for the Lone Piper, a tune composed to commemorate Vickis late father Pipe Major Roddy Swan. The Duos wide experience of travelling is reflected in tune titles such as Hemligheten; (Swedish for `the secret) which features Vickis flute playing.
Her flute is prominent throughout the three songs on the CD: The Trooper and the Maid, The Hares Lament and Seven Little Gypsies both featuring Jonny. He sings in a pleasant enough manner. However, it is Vickis vocal and instrumental accompaniment that really makes the songs. So, all in all, a very satisfying recording.