Few North Americans know the Scottish quintet Malinky and more’s the pity: their debut isn’t just a good recording, it’s one of the very best Celtic recordings of last year. This album would be worth buying just to hear the vocals of Karine Polwart, known to many for her brief stint in Battlefield Band. Polwart is that rare talent who can sing with pristine beauty (“The Sound Of A Tear Not Cried”), bouncy exuberance (“Billy Taylor”) and melancholy (“Three Ravens”) or gale-force power (“Thaney”). Bandmates Mark Dunlop and Steve Byrne are also fine vocalists, and the band’s mix of fiddles (Jon Brews), whistles (Dunlop), squeeze boxes (Leo McCann), bouzouki and guitar (Byrne,Polwart) creates an instrumental mix that is solid and exciting without crossing that thin line into harried frenzy that marks a lot of young Celtic bands. Smart, vibrant and varied, this is an album worth seeking out.