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BACK WEST - The Long Walk

BACK WEST - The Long Walk
Private Label BWMCD001

A quiet, rainy winter’s day; the postie delivers a CD which I put on to play, and suddenly, immediately, every brain cell tells me to stop whatever else I might have been thinking about and listen closer. Right from the off, Back West’s inaugural release grabs the attention with their clarity and drive, and the realisation sets in that this is going to be one group that is going to make a great impact.

Siblings Brendan and Maureen Browne play button box and fiddles respectively; PJ McDonald gives us guitars and vocals; and completing the line-up is Peter Vickers on bodhrán, percussion and dancing. To list their individual musical pedigrees would take this review way beyond the prescribed length guidelines, so let’s just say they are all very impressive indeed.

PJ’s voice is strong and mellifluous, with a good timbre and clear diction, and he tells the stories of the songs very well indeed. The instrumental playing of the group is outstandingly fine, with some particularly incisive fiddling from Maureen. The engine-room power of the bodhrán is exceedingly crisp and helps drive along the tune sets. There are a fair number of reels – well, they are Galway-based – along with jigs, polkas and a graceful slow air, and Breton and Galician pieces too. Never mind the source, everything that Back West tackles comes across with verve and panache, with a mix that ensures every note is crystal clear.

Definitely one of the top albums of this or any year, from a group that’s surely going places.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.