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MARTIN MATTHEWS - Wall To Wall: Cowraik To Sliabh Croob

MARTIN MATTHEWS - Wall To Wall: Cowraik To Sliabh Croob
Cuig Music CUICD014

Martin Matthews is a creative instrumentalist who knows some very good musicians, some of whom join him in playing this set of largely self-penned tunes. A masterly meld. The tunes are set to accompany acrylic paintings, mainly landscapes, with a narrative attached to each. In a way, the CD matches the spirit of these and, whilst nothing to do with this genre of music, reminds me of jazz sax Tommaso Starace’s compositions against black and white photos of Italy.

The highlights for me, after some fairly familiar formats of airs, reels, jigs and hornpipes, were the almost reggae off-beat composition, The Green Groves Of Olives (reggae in Tuscany? See the painting in the sleeve notes), and Sliabh Croob, where the Uilleann pipes tie the soundscape in an elastic lyricism, completing the circuit of the theme of the disc - from Cumbria to Ireland and back.

Martin’s bouzouki and mandolin playing, with accompanying bass, remind me of Chris Thile’s recent offerings accompanied by bass player Edgar Meyer. His guitar playing is just as deft.

This CD is the second of a trio-series called Wall To Wall which features arrangements of traditional and recently composed tunes, a new repertoire which Martin promises will be available on iTunes and in a forthcoming manuscript for those who wish to study them. (It may also be of interest to watch Sean Taylor’s vimeo of Martin talking through his musical-artistic ambitions online.)

C.John Edwards

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.