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A second solo album - and I mean solo, just a lone fiddle - from this established but still young player: another box of surprises, as Danny takes a fresh look at the music of his ancestors. In a way, it's like having Johnny Doherty or Padraig O'Keeffe in your living room: everything here is clearly a part of the fiddle tradition, yet none of it is quite as you may have heard it before, and there's a sense of the global, the well-travelled, the quality that sets the master innovator apart from the journeyman fiddler. From the off we have ringing strings and modal cadences, double stops and drones, first on a 19th century song air and then on an equally venerable single jig. Both tunes come from the piping tradition and have been carefully researched from archive material. Mr Diamond uses a low open tuning to approximate the sound of the pipes, a technique employed by travelling Donegal fiddlers of old.

This ability to bring old material into the light of today's world is one which Danny Diamond applies to several tracks here. Tommy Potts' idiosyncratic version of The Pinch Of Snuff, the air The Blackbird, and a version of the mighty six-part hornpipe Johnny Cope based on the Jacobite song, all are given a new treatment and brought out of the shadows of dusty recordings to delight the ears of modern audiences. Diamond's fiddle is capable of extreme sweetness, as can be heard at the end of his piece, The Return From Cloughoughter, but also has the option of an earthy old-time rasp which is used to great effect on the Powderhorn Polkas set here, particularly to catch the back strings on the unhelpfully named Johnny Leary's: you'll have to listen to discover which of Johnny's many polkas was selected for Elbow Room.

Despite its very traditional mood, this CD includes several of Danny's own tunes. His descriptive pieces, The Swan and Watching The Evening Grow, are large canvases by Irish fiddle standards, evocative listening but perhaps not session tunes. The Sniggler, The Musket and those Powderhorn Polkas are more mainstream, dance music which Diamond has already handily arranged in sets with traditional tunes. Along with the old air, An Buachaillín Bán, these complete a powerful album of music which should provide plenty of entertainment and the inspiration to find your own Elbow Room. 

Alex Monaghan

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