Link to Living Tradition Homepage





BRIAN FINNEGAN The Ravishing Genius of Bones

The Ravishing Genius of Bones
Private Label DDD2326CD

Two decades on from his first solo album, Brian Finnegan is without doubt one of the world's finest whistle players, and a dab hand on the wooden flute too. Most of the intervening years have been focused on the pioneering band Flook, but recently Brian has gone solo again. Solo in the American sense: just Brian and maybe twenty backing musicians. The Ravishing Genius of Bones makes the most of Brian's exceptional talent, and pulls in elements of many different musical styles.

There's a great deal on this recording which extends Brian's work with Flook. Although Sarah Allen's flute is absent, the rest of the gang make their presence felt from the opening Three Little Steps to the final Night Ride to Armagh. Among a dozen Finnegan originals here, one or two seem familiar from Flook gigs: Forest Baby for example, a dreamy slow jig. Other tracks are quite unlike Flook: the mandolin and guitar arrangement of Marga's Moment is closer to Newgrass improvisation, and the following Crooked Still Reel moves deeper into the backwoods with its eponymous Bluegrass guests.

Brian Finnegan wins my 2010 award for most appropriate use of a string section with his lament Last of the Starrs, a very moving melody and a truly evocative arrangement. Almost half of this CD is given over to Brian's slower compositions, and they're all good: The 40 Year Waltz, If Only A Little, and the slightly quicker Blue Gaze. Racier numbers include Damien O'Kane's Castlerock Road, Barry Kerr's Back to Belfast and Kevin O'Neill's magnificent Superfly. Brian's playing is superb throughout, of course, and the arrangements are also something special. Particular credit should go to Ed Boyd's guitar, Leon Hunt's banjo, and Ian Stephenson's powerful upright bass. The Ravishing Genius of Bones is not just about Finnegan fireworks, although these are plentiful enough: the mellow moments are equally enjoyable, and the whole recording has a rounded mature feel as a result. Highly recommended.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.