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Raison D’être

Private Label SHIRTY1

Eight years in the making, four EFFDSS ‘Gold Badge’ award winners involved, previously unrecorded English music from the end of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth as well as a couple of self-penned tunes, together with a reworking of the opening track from Dave Swarbrick’s first ever album, are the basic ingredients of Dave Swarbrick’s latest masterpiece.

If it wasn’t for his stunning ability then this could quite easily have been a disaster. Many have delved into early historical periods, to find unpublished tunes, surrounded themselves with master musicians only to find the project less than satisfying. But he pulls it off in true Swarbrick style.

The CD opens with a set of tunes he used to play many years ago in the Beryl Marriott Ceilidh Band - the same Beryl Marriott who features on a couple of tracks here. This time Spanish Ladies has been reworked and Dave is joined by Canadian Jason Wilson and his band. The effect is still one of a Scottish dance night though.

As you would expect, the tunes researched from the works of Playford, Bunting Wright and Walsh need careful listening and demand your attention. Featuring Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, the set starting with A Jigg Called Long Time from the Daniel Wright Collection is certainly one of the most ambitious. This gives way to the startling piano introduction provided by the aforementioned Beryl Marriott to the final track, We Brought the Summer With Us, which features Dave Swarbrick’ s playing at its best. A truly stunning end to a brilliant CD.

But it is one of Dave’s own tunes that is the truly outstanding track on Raison D’être. On Andy’s Waltz, Dave plays the Baritone Violin and comes up with one of the richest sounds you will ever hear. When the powers that be start compiling those nominations for those awards then this track should be there for Best Original Tune - it’s that good. In fact the CD is that good too.

We are blessed in the folk world with many good fiddle players. Some go on to become very good. Some even become great. Only a few go on to be a master of their instrument. Dave Swarbrick shows on Raison D’être just why he is one of that select few.  Highly recommended.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.