FolkWords Review - BOLD by Canadian trio NUA - freshness thriving on spontaneity and innovation

Instrumental albums always run the risk of ‘sameness’. It’s not so much a case of running out of ideas it’s the often the listener abandoning attention. There’s that temptation to lose concentration and allow the music to slide into the background. However, with their debut album ‘BOLD’, Canadian trio NUA have achieved a freshness that thrives on a heavy injection of spontaneity and innovation to hold their listeners’ attention. The essence of Scottish and Irish heritage pervades their music despite the originality of this album.

There’s energy, reflection, experimentation and inspiration wound together to create a mix of tunes that range from the simply presented to mesmerising and complex. Some of the tunes sit in noticeable ‘groups’ while others almost work at odds with their fellows. It’s this diversity that makes this album work so well.

There’s the electronica-fused build of ‘Intro’ turning into fiddle-driven bodhran-embellished ‘Fizzbuzz’, which slips effortlessly into the urgent insistence of ‘The Draw’, while ‘Ecklund’s’ takes a softer yet equally jolly journey. The sprightly sparkle of ‘Driving Song’ and the merry vivacity in ‘The Thistle and The Daffodil’ form a fine couplet, while the portentous ‘The Dark Road’ offers a rather sombre tone. For me, there’s a couple of standout tracks that involve the listener most - the soft suggestion of ‘Peter And Michelle’s’ and thehome-ground tradition that flows through ‘Martyn’s Yellow Tea Pot’.

NUA is Graeme McGillivray (guitar) James Law 9fiddle) and Jacob McCauley (bodhran) and ‘BOLD’ reflects their respect for tradition and freedom to innovate. A debut they should regard with justifiable pride.

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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