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EAMONN COYNE "Through The Round Window" Compass Records 743452

It's time for the banjo players of the world to unite and rise up against the oppressive regime of musical jokesters who classify us as second only to bodhran players as a suitable target for their cruel and unwarranted barbs! (Alright, sometimes not totally unwarranted!)

For a start, all such philistines should be made to listen to this CD. I challenge anyone to maintain that the tenor banjo is an instrument that lacks flexibility after hearing this selection. Eamonn Coyne has assembled a dozen or so top-class musicians to accompany him as he plays his way through a range of his own musical influences. Here we have Irish styles ranging from Donegal to Galway, American old-timey, and tunes both traditional and contemporary, all linked by Eamonn's mastery of his preferred instrument. For good measure, he plays some guitar and mandolin too.

Here we have tenor banjo played with a finesse and sensitivity which fits in perfectly with the other instrumentation and as accompaniment for a couple of Kevin Doherty's self-penned songs, Mary J and Long Roads. At other times, we have the drive and attack more commonly associated with the Irish tenor style, but a particular favourite of mine is when Eamonn teams up with the 5-string banjo player Alison Brown for a blistering set, Oh Susannah / Clinch Mountain Backstep /Bill Chetham.

Eamonn dedicates the album to his grandmother, Ethna Coyne, and, at the end, there is a track with her performing The Jolly Beggarman - a nice touch.

So, lay those prejudices down and give this a listen - you'll be well rewarded.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.