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NORMAN MACKAY - The Inventor 

NORMAN MACKAY - The Inventor 
Private Label CAWCD002 

A full album of largely unfamiliar Scots accordion-led tunes might sound a little too much of agood thing for some, but this is quality stuff. Mackay, originally from the Highlands but now based in Glasgow, has surrounded himself with exceptional musicians. If the squeezebox generally takes the lead, there is plenty of room for other members of the team to shine. Sometimes he uses a conventional string quartet line-up, elsewhere he employs other configurations, including generous helpings of fiddle and violin. Interestingly, to me at any rate, he draws a distinction between the two. No matter, he and his troop create a gloriously varied soundscape. For sheer spaciousness and atmosphere, we are in the territory of The Gloaming, and there are few more fulsome compliments than that.

The title track is fittingly strong, whilst Monachil Waltz is one of a number of tracks to use trumpet, in this case to conjure up a distinctly Spanish vibe. Another add-on worth a mention is the double bass playing of Duncan Lyall. It's a rich mix, never more so than when the ensemble plunges headlong into Disco's Inferno - reminiscent of early Sharon Shannon. It's all very, well, for want of a better word, inventive. Take, for instance, Gellatly's March, where the strings and things are joined by Lorne MacDougall on bagpipes and the Edinburgh Singers Choir.

Highly recommended.

Dave Hadfield


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine