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Working Hands is Shetland-born fiddler Jenna Reid’s most accomplished album to date.
Featuring predominantly original compositions, the album grew out of lessons Reid took with Robert McFall, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s experienced second violinist and leader of the revered and genre-defying string ensemble Mr McFall’s Chamber.
Already extremely proficient and expressive, Reid wanted to work on her technique and hone her sound and delivery, and from working on these finer points with McFall she decided to make a recording that was different to her previous albums such as With Silver and All and Morning Moon.
Working Hands showcases the slower paced, more reflective music that has resulted from taking more time and listening more intently to the sound Reid produces on her instrument. She has explored this aspect of her playing solo and with her long-time accompanist, the deeply expressive and marvellously responsive pianist Harris Playfair.
Have a listen
Many of these compositions are dedicated to the musicians involved.
McFall’s March is an at times exuberant, at times keening tribute to McFall’s Chamber, a group Reid has followed and has wanted to work with for many years. Su-a Song, for McFall’s cellist Su-a Lee, is Reid at her most tenderly sensitive, and Metronome Man was written for Reid’s husband, the percussionist Iain Sandilands.
Also included are three of Reid’s favourite traditional Shetland tunes, two airs and a jig taken at a slow and delicate pace. As with most of the tracks here, these were worked up in the relaxed atmosphere of Castlesound studio by Reid and Playfair, a musician for whom Reid’s admiration and respect are boundless, and then arranged to incorporate McFall’s Chamber by Reid in response to the duo’s treatment of them.
The ruggedly exuberant title track celebrates the strength and dexterity of the tools musicians use every day and is a real earworm, one of these tunes that get into your head and refuse to leave. Its galloping quality gives every indication that, while the hands depicted in the album artwork are very much working hands, their owners approach that work with enthusiasm and sheer love of the craft of making music.