Sisters' unique take on folk brings the House down

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The House Sisters The Village

PERHAPS it's the effect of the internet, or perhaps it's a general sense of dissatisfaction with what was once called chart music, but there seems to be more room being found these days for music that might once have been described as 'marginal'.

Folk music, in particular, seems to go through cycles of being ignored, reinvented, discovered and rediscovered every few years. Sometimes it's the turn of modern folk, while at other times, traditional songs and tunes are given another shot at the spotlight.

None of that would come as any surprise to The Leith Folk Club, given that they been championing folk of all varieties for years at The Village, comfortably nestled away as they are in Leith.

Last night found an entirely amiable mixture of the old and the new, seen through the lens of The House Sisters – a trio of very early 20-somethings with their own, unique take on the subject.

Normally, the weel-kent face of the inimitable 'Fozzie' would be seen introducing the numerous acts at the club and regularly presiding over raffles and announcements. On this occasion, however, he got the opportunity to perform as a too-brief support act. Opening with The Collier Laddie, he went on to shyly sing another pair of crackers, before quietly slipping off to the dark recesses of the bar.

The House Sisters – Carly Blain, Rachel Cross and Kira Slater – played a fabulous mixture of older traditional tunes, together with their own material, seamlessly woven into their set. Clearly not sisters at all, Slater played what might have been cheesy piano accompaniments, but were actually often angular and restrained parts alongside Blain and Cross' sinewy fiddle playing. Unison parts bandied with beautifuL harmonies, and even a few contrapuntal lines now and then, turning well-known melodies into uncharted territory for the seasoned audience.

Slater's vocals had an enjoyable innocence and charm, but will definitely benefit from a few more years of tempering. As a whole, the group had a cheeky presence and definitely brought more than a little sexiness to what can sometimes be a grey genre, but the stagecraft they will learn in the next few years will carry them leaps and bounds beyond these already impressive early stages.

Highlights, including Cross' cheery Chin Up, a magical retelling of Heilan Laddie and Slater's mature and almost heartbreaking How I Wish, were standouts in an otherwise excellent choice of material. All of their selections were, at the very least, beautifully arranged and expertly performed.

If last night was anything to go by, then what The House Sisters do next should be nothing short of exceptional.