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DUNCAN CHISHOLM - "The Door of Saints" - Copperfish Records CPFCD002
In 1988 Duncan recorded his debut album. Although a 'low key', homespun affair there was enough charm and wisdom displayed to recognise instantly that he's not only a fiddler of class and distinction. He was also a player who, given the breaks, could stand the test of time. For those who don't already know, his 'break' came as fiddler, and instrumental frontman with Scotland's premier folk rock outfit Wolfstone. For many years Duncan toured the world spreading the gospel of Wolfstone. However the need to record another album of traditional fiddle music was never far away. Just over a decade after his debut came the release of the sublime 'Redpoint'. An album of ageless beauty, firmly establishing him as one of the most gifted Scottish players.

It's now just two hours since my postman handed me the package containing 'The Door of Saints', and I'm just coming to the end of its third play. I know already that this is a follow-up worthy of my expectations. As the single 'tolling bell' heralds the introduction of the album's first tune 'Chro Chinn t-saile' it's clear that Duncan's new CD contains all the elements, which made his previous album such an enduring body of work. Throughout, his soft reflective treatment of the slow airs puts him alongside both Alasdair Fraser and Dougie Maclean as a major exponent of the art. There's an unmistakable grace about the 'The Door of Saints'. That's not to say that he's neglected to include any upbeat tunes, 'Canan Nan Gaidheal' starts with a sympathetic rendition of the Gaelic theme that mutates into a pulsating clash of Spanish and Scottish cultures.

Alongside his Blazing Fiddles comrades Bruce MacGregor and Catreona MacDonald, we have the future of the Scottish fiddle, true to their roots but hungry for discovery. In my view the future couldn't be in safer hands. If you only think of Duncan as the fiddle player in Wolfstone then do yourself a favour and discover his solo work, there are many, ahem..strings to his bow.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.