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Leo McCann "If Anyone Can!" Canndhu 001

I first met Leo McCann at the Feis on the Isle of Eigg, teaching button accordion to the young ones during the day, and playing some wild music at night. Only wimps go to bed in the dark during those weekends; with McCann's playing, you don't want to go to bed at all. I was impressed the first time I heard him, and this CD confirms that impression. If anything, he's rather more restrained than I remember from previous years.

There's a good mix between reels, jigs, and slower stuff including the almost obligatory Scandinavian tune. The balance is varied between traditional and modern, with nine self-composed tunes. McCann still has the West Ulster style, but he's honest about his other influences since he's lived in Scotland. So there are pipe tunes, and piping styles, in here. It's all relaxed, yet tight, box and low whistle playing with a great lift to it. McCann's C/C# box has a really bright tone to it that's reminiscent of some of the older melodeon styles.

The first set pays tribute to Wes and Maggie Fyffe of Cuagach on the Isle of Eigg; a great house for the ceili. Like Wes, McCann's from Co.Tyrone, but I doubt that has anything to do with it; they're just great people to be with. On Track 7, "Lament for Owen Roe", McCann starts the tune on the bass end of the box. It really does give the impression of uilleann pipe regulators; a neat idea that I've not heard of before.

One test of a CD is to do something else while it's playing. If you can carry on without stopping, then it's not getting to you. I'm trying to write this while McCann's playing; and it's taking me ages!

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.