Chris MacKenzie reviews RURA’s ‘In Praise of Home’


CD Review by Chris MacKenzie.
Piping Today #92, 2018.

In contravention of the normal progression of bands in the Scottish traditional scene, Rura have taken songs out of their album rather than put more in. In Praise of Home is Rura’s third album and their first completely instrumental, and self-penned one. In the eight years since forming, Rura have become a well-established and well-received band on the festival circuit, and are known for providing a terrific live show.

That said, it still takes chutzpah to rely fully on your own material for your new CD when there is such a wealth of great material already available. Rura tackle that challenge with great aplomb and skill. The music of Jack Smedley, Steven Blake, David Foley and Adam Brown is accomplished and polished. It is evident from the first note of the title track that this is a group of musicians comfortable with each other and the music they make. That music moves from the delicate and moving, to the full-on, fingers flying, feet stamping, rabble-rousing sound that will have festival venues in Britain and beyond rocking out to the Rura beat.


The band have evolved a sound that; although it has echoes of the Peatbog Faeries, and touches of Martyn Bennett, it is uniquely Rura, and surprisingly deeply layered to the extent that, on occasion, it feels like there is a full orchestra behind the band. Despite all the band members getting in on composition, the album has a very unified feel, moving seamlessly from one track to another in a glorious ‘wall of sound’ that gives the album an almost transcendental atmosphere as the music draws you in and wraps itself around you. Adam Brown’s guitar playing, which is higher in the mix than is often the case, provides a rhythmic foil that the pipes, fiddle, whistle and flute weave in and out of with a delightful subtlety, even when the turbo-charger kicks in and the tempo ramps up to licence-busting speed.

In Praise of Home is an album that showcases a band who have paid their dues and are now confident that they can make music that resonates with their experiences while allowing them to fully explore the boundaries of their skills. The album is a triumph from start to finish. It will delight existing fans, and generate a raft of new ones.