Where can you get your hands on a fiddle and guitar album that clocks in at well over an hour with 21 tracks and manages to comprise American Old-Time tunes, Irish reels and jigs, Northumbrian tunes, Swedish tunes, Jewish wedding music, tunes from the Shetlands and the Pyrenees? (Plus a self-composed 10/8 tune - get your head around that one, folks!) And all played with gusto, finesse and breathtaking virtuosity?

Nowhere, you might think. But you'd be wrong. For Ben Paley and Tab Hunter, from England's bohemian South Coast, have pulled off the near-impossible trick of assembling a diverse and eclectic album which manages to remain resolutely "authentic" at the same time as being imbued with a great deal of their individual personalities.

Paley's the fiddler of the pair and a well-read one to boot. Expressive and lyrical, his gracings are a pleasure to the ear. Hunter's the guitarist; a man with a remarkable ability to combine an on-the-money steadiness with expressive, smile-inducing flurries and runs. His playing transcends mere accompaniment; it's a vital component of the pair's overall sound. Whatever he does, however it might, on occasion, confound your expectations, his playing is always "right", always creating exactly the sort of mood that the particular tune requires, or the element of harmony which spotlights a particular phrase.

We at Pay The Reckoning have to confess to a blissful lack of knowledge of some of the traditions which Paley and Hunter explore, particularly the Eastern European and Scandinavian traditions. However the beauty of their approach to making music is that such ignorance doesn't matter. Neither individual is tight-arsed or po-faced. The key questions are ... Did it affect you? Did you tap your foot? Did they raise a smile? Did you hit the repeat button?

The answer in all cases is a resounding yes. We may not know a great deal about polskas or bulgars or horas or brudlåts. But we do know fine tunes when we hear them. And we know controlled, yet emotionally-involved, playing when we hear it. And so we warmed immediately to tunes such as "Vallpigan", "Fun der Chupah", "Dickapolskan/Polska efter Pål Karl Persson", "Sörmländsk Brudlåt/Kruspolskan" and "Odessa Bulgar/Bessarabye Hora".

We were on terra cognita (sorry about the Latin ... but the album's title has got us to thinking in dead languages!) with the remainder of the album. The Old-Timey tunes such as "Glory In The Meeting House", "Done Gone", "Over The Waterfall", "Johnson Boys", "Grub Spring" and "Little Rabbit", called to mind some of the great moments on albums such as The Watson Family. Candid, vigorous, infectious music, yet underpinned by remarkable virtuosity.

And as for tunes from the British, Irish and Scottish traditions. Well ... they were the litmus test ... and yet again the pair proved their mettle. On reel sets such as "Man Of The House/The Earl's Chair", "The Durham Rangers/The Morpeth Rant", "Ship In The Clouds/Big Scioty" and two of Jackson's reels, their feel for the music is abundantly obvious. And as for the jig set "Old Hag You Have Killed Me!/Fraher's Jig" ... You could easily be mistaken for thinking the lads hail from some place with Bally or Derry or Kil in the name!

This is a generous offering from players for whom passion and integrity are guiding musical principles. Above all else it's a "fun" listen. Neither player is remotely self-conscious. (Mind you with such talent at their disposal, they can both afford to be less uptight than most!) The result is music that seeks to connect, to include rather than to exclude.

Give them a listen. Go to http://www.blazingstrings.com

[ NB - now www.blazingstrings.co.uk ]