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KEVIN MACLEOD - Highland Strands

KEVIN MACLEOD - Highland Strands
Private Label BEAGCD003

This is the fourth solo album by this esteemed member of The Occasionals (Scotland’s leading ceilidh band) and features most of the extended members of the mandolin and bouzouki family in various permutations, with regular co-conspirators including Luke Plumb from Shooglenifty, Alec Finn from De Danann and John Martin and Phil Smillie from Tannahill Weavers. Here we have 14 medleys of tunes, divided approximately equally between traditional and contemporary.

Six months in the making, it has all been worth it as the recording is probably one of the top albums I have heard this year. My particular favourites are the six tracks that feature John Martin on fiddle, as the interplay between him and Macleod is stunningly good. Luke Plumb is in fine fettle as he contributes to most tracks (bouzouki / mandolin / resonator mandolin). The appearance of some of the tunes is as much a tribute to Kevin Macleod’s research as to his own sensitive arrangements. Of the contemporary tunes, Dónal Lunny’s delightful Fairfield Mirage stands out as do Andy Statman’s Waltz For Mum and The Beltable Waltz by Maurice Lennon and Kieran Hanrahan of Stocktons Wing.

Some of the pipe tunes that have been reverse engineered for stringed instruments have taken their own career path - and are none the worse for the experience. If Scottish and Irish tunes on mandolin, cittern, bouzouki and the like are down your street, you will love this. I’m now enthusiastically hunting down Macleod’s previous albums, as I am now a convert (mind you buying a bouzouki last year has helped steer me in this direction…).

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.