Celtic Connections review: Laura Beth Salter & Jenn Butterworth

Laura Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth
Laura Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth
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Launching their sophomore album together, Hunter’s Moon, flautist and piper Calum Stewart and French guitarist Heikki Bourgault fuse Scots, Irish and Breton traditions, their deft, dynamic interplay making for a cheerily lively set.

Laura Beth Salter & Jenn Butterworth - National Piping Centre

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Bourgault’s rhythmic playing unfussily backed Stewart as he flitted between the wooden flute and the uilleann pipes, with Another Winter dreamily and seasonally melodic, the pair’s waltzes suffused with a nocturnal spirit of abandon. Glasgow-based Laura-Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth project a fiercely soulful dimension when they harmonise, via their simpatico dance of mandolin and guitar and the unabashed spiritual yearning of their lyrics. Opener Come To Jesus established the mood – a charming if expressive hymnal afforded an understated bluegrass rawness, while Butterworth’s sunny Angel may have been lyrically trite but showcased an assured but never domineering guitar style. The pair imbued Fred Tackett’s love song Find a River with all the plaintive gorgeousness that is its due. And they did a passable impression of booze-soaked southern belles on a lush, shameless cover of Bessie Smith’s Me and My Gin. The Americana inspiration was further to the fore on the spry, joyously upbeat instrumental Shine, while their rendition of Nanci Griffith’s I Wish It Would Rain emerged as similarly and surprisingly optimistic.

As an encore, they welcomed Stewart and Bourgault back for a performance of Northumbrian piper Andy May’s Vankarin Polska, a truly stomping number that ensured no-one felt short-changed at them rushing away immediately to play The Festival Club.

Seen on 24.01.14