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Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX395

A young fiddler from the London Irish community, Matt Tighe has roots in Trinidad too and came relatively late to Irish music even though he was brought up on recordings of The Chieftains. His epiphany came eight years ago at Cambridge Folk Festival, and he's certainly made up for lost time. This debut recording has a contemporary sound throughout, whether on Matt's own compositions (a good handful of reels, jigs, hornpipes and waltzes) or on the preponderance of traditional tunes here. The fulsome arrangements fit both old and new material, with varied contributions from such luminaries of the London scene as Luke Daniels, Chris O'Malley and Tad Sargent, as well as James Lindsay and the omnipresent Brian McNeill. The fiddle is ever to the fore, on slow airs like The Wild Geese or dance music by Paddy Fahy, Junior Crehan, Vincent Broderick and others.

Tighe's own reel, Meantime, sets the tone, a driving modern melody after a dreamy introduction. There's a magical misty feel to many of the pieces here, plenty of post-production polish on Pórt na bPúcaí and on McNeill's stately Minsteracres in particular, but also on the traditional hornpipes, Eileen O'Neill's and Roger O'Neill's. The reel and jig sets, King's and Cronin's, are sparser, more natural in a way, and surprisingly relaxed too: no need for speed, with lovely languid playing. The same applies to Matt's pair of Southall waltzes. His final big medley could serve as an overture to the whole album: a Chieftains-like planxty, the classic Easter Snow, and two fine reels with Daniels' button box matching Matt note for note. I was completely drawn into this music, a delightful experience, and I've listened to the whole CD at least a dozen times without any reduction in the freshness and excitement of Matt Tighe's fiddling.

Alex Monaghan

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