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Moirai - Here and Now (WildGoose Records)

Let us consider the cover artwork for HERE & NOW, the new album by Moirai (pronounced More-eye). There's something exceptionally refreshing and rejuvenating about those swirling colours, something within the subtle changes in shades that invites us deeper into the work itself. The same could well be said of the music on this seductive second album from the all-female trio. Indeed, it's not surprising that the artwork was created by Mel Biggs, one third of this outstanding multi-instrumental outfit.

Beginning with a sublime take on Rose Milligan's life-affirming poem Dust If You Must, HERE & NOW unfurls a patchwork quilt of sweetly harmonic folk songs, graceful instrumentals and a handful of impressive originals. The musicianship is stunning, with always elegant and often dazzling moments of accordion, fiddle, flute and clarinet, but it's the approach to their music that distinguishes Jo Freya, Mel Biggs and Sarah Matthews from other combos, not to mention vocal harmonies that make even the longest hairs stand to attention. There is great joy on this album, studded with glimmering sequins of humour and love. Behind the spine-sizzling a Capella vocals of Doffin' Mistress there lies a delightful mischief that rises again in the wonderful Brexit Biscuits. And even the more melancholy moments are coloured with uplifting hues such as Rolanda's Mother and The Hare, the latter composed and sung by Jo Freya, an artist of countless talents and who may be better known to some as one seventh of Blowzabella and, to others, as the trusty MC of Whitby's Musicport Festival.

One of the highlights of this constantly engaging record is the trio's gentle take on Daz Barker's Here & Now, the title track whose arresting lyrics benefit from Moirai's impassioned vocals and a clarinet solo that tugs determinedly at the heartstrings. "Moments to remember," the ladies sing, "but none of them compare to here and now", a line that epitomises the exuberance that runs right the way through this lovely album.

Liam Wilkinson
Northern Sky