Format: Music CD, Park Records. Hard to find Folk Music CD.
The "debateable lands" of the title are the border regions between England and Scotland, a territory whose ownership was long in dispute and which therefore became a refuge for notorious outlaws and border reivers. Kathryn Tickell was commissioned to write an extended instrumental piece on the subject, and the result is the nine-minute suite "Stories From The Debateable Lands." It's an impressive centrepiece to an album already overflowing with great music, both old and new, beautifully performed by Tickell and her band. Most of the tunes here have a cross-border theme, even if it's occasionally tenuous: such as the Irish tune popular with regulars at the Cumberland Arms in Byker!. As ever on her albums, Tickell's own compositions stand out, showing off the Northumbrian pipes at their finest (she's a fine fiddle-player, too). The final track, "Our Kate" (written by Tickell for Tyneside author Catherine Cookson), is performed as duet for Northumbrian and Uilleann pipes, making for a ravishing end to a superb album. A final bit of folk trivia: the tune "Random", attributed here to James Hill, is the same one used by Fairport Convention in their song "The Widow Of Westmorland's Daughter"
. --Mark Walker