Young, talented, and Scottish: this quintet bucks the trend of Irish and Canadian ceilidh kids to bring an identifiably Scottish sound into the musical prodigy market. They’re not the only ones, of course, but they are certainly among the best. The EP they released last year was promising, and their debut album (not quite full length, but decently below the knee) delivers in style. Four young ladies on fiddle, harp, piano and vocals are joined by one lad playing accordion: poor Grant McFarlane not only has to lug his piano box around, but I bet all the hot water’s gone by the time he gets a turn in the barhroom. He writes a cracking tune though, as does pianist Heather Shelley, both good enough to make The Prize set alongside great melodies by Brendan Ring and Phil Cunningham. In five instrumental tracks, Cherrygrove aren’t afraid to put their own tunes up against Donald Shaw, Chris Stout, Patsy Reid and others, and rightly so. My favourite is probably the exuberant Latin-tinged Ritos by harpist Sarah MacNeil, but the prize for best tune title goes to fiddler Mhairi Mackinnon’s Glittery Toilet Seat.
While all five members sing, lead vocals are the preserve of Marianne Fraser, already a powerful singer in her early twenties. The four songs here are all very different, none of them traditional Scottish but a mix of Americana and contemporary folk, and Marianne’s expressive voice brings out the character of each one. Her equally youthful bandmates back her up strongly, and although the words are a little blurred at times the sentiments are crystal clear. Overall, there are three things I particularly like about Cherrygrove’s music. Firstly, they don’t waste time on long boring intros: the longest lead-in here is under thirty seconds, far from dull, and most are close to zero. Secondly, they mix songs and tunes in a creative way, stringing a Brian Finnegan tune through Ain’t No Grave, and combining Mhairi’s reel The Boy and the Boat with Marianne’s title track. Thirdly, there is just so much variety in this collection: fiddle, harp and accordion leads, songs from romantic to religious, and a wide range of accompaniment. Every member of Cherrygrove gets composing credits, and their contributions to this album are hard to separate. No Time Like Now really is a group achievement, and I’m guessing this group will soon achieve much more. Cherrygrove are clearly a band to watch.

Click here to view this review