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Compass Records 744162

Two of the leading members of Irish-American supergroup Solas have now made their first duo record. They start like a train with a lively set of reels, the two instruments fizzing and sparkling with some stunning unison playing on box and fiddle which reminded me of the kind of empathy I used to associate with earlier recordings from Kevin Burke and Jackie Daly. The super guitar & bass work from Donal Clancy and Chico Huff are as fine as any you'll find. The set builds, the production builds (we even get ooh and aah female vocal choruses) and it's a great set of tunes. The jigs are jazzy, the hornpipes quirky and the title track is beautiful.

Mick McAuley's singing is undemonstrative - almost lethargic in approach. This works beautifully on Here's Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy (sounds like the version originally from the Copper Family of Sussex), but in a song like After The Goldrush, which is fairly low-key to start with, it doesn't hit the button for me. However, the instrumental work on these is outstanding. Some of the tunes are rather inconsequential, but where they've really gone to town are the arrangements and production. Barely a track goes by without ranks of multi-tracked violins and whistles making themselves felt so that when they get to the final track a beautiful, uncluttered (well, at first) version of 'To Make You Feel My Love', you become aware of just how wonderful it is to hear these two fine musicians on their own.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.