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MARTIN MATTHEWS - Wall To Wall: Greencastle To Carrickmacross 

MARTIN MATTHEWS - Wall To Wall: Greencastle To Carrickmacross 
Cúig Music CUICD015 

This release completes a trilogy that loosely follows the route of Emperor Hadrian’s Roman wall and the Mourne Wall. It is an intimate musical portrait of Northumbria, Cumbria and Oriel, which was to accompany an art show of Matthews’ called Wall To Wall. There is a Northumbrian feel, despite the Irish pedigree of a lot of the tunes.

Matthews, an artist and a multi-instrumentalist, is helped out by a dozen others, including folks like Gerry O’Connor and Karen Tweed. There is a mix of traditional and original compositions (which you may have some difficulty telling apart). There are barndances, reels, jigs, waltzes, and airs aplenty. It includes a stately version of Alistair Anderson’s The Road To The North, a cerebral setting of The Mourne Wall (which is referred to as a “pastoral” – but without the theology), the loose, jazzy feel of the original set Roads To Cross And Carrick, the gentle and keening Carlingford Shore, the jaunty and wandering Paul Ruane’s Jig, and a grand set of country-tinged waltzes named after a long-lamented dance hall in Dundalk. The selections are clearly rooted in the region, and the whole release (including the lovely art in the liner notes) has a genuine feel for the land and the people. It evokes the spirit of sessions in historic inns, with the waning light of late afternoon reflecting in the distorted glass of the windows.

Ivan Emke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.