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CIARAN ALGAR - The Final Waltz

CIARAN ALGAR - The Final Waltz
Fellside Recordings FECD270

This debut release from one half of the estimably celebrated duo (with Greg Russell) represents, with the support of Fellside Recordings, the productive outcome of a gap year! Alternating four tune-sets with four songs, three of which are self-penned, and parting with an absorbingly expressive rendition of The Wild Geese, he deploys his considerably wide instrumental abilities (fiddle, banjo, guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, percussion) supported by several others in realising his contemporary arrangements.

Toby Shaer (flute, whistles, fiddle, guitar), Eden Longson (drums), Giles Deacon (keyboards) and Sam Kelly (vocals, guitar) are the main protagonists with Kitty Macfarlane (vocals) and Jamie Francis (banjo) as guests. Kelly’s vocal delivery is particularly pleasing and the songs are all afforded suitable space and due length for their dynamic development with evidently careful attention to the emotional charge and drama of their generally melancholic metaphorical reflections on the human condition (including a clever piece about the structural dilemma caused by the proliferation of lovers’ padlocks imperilling the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris). This is markedly apparent too on his interpretation of Hutchings, Fleming and Dunlop’s vaunted version of the Irish Blessing Until We Meet Again.

The arrangements audibly draw on rock and other modern music genres, in the instrumental sets in particular, with a distinctly progressive character often busy and energetic in its compositional movement. However, this affords satisfying variety to the generally slow pacing of the songs. This is a very impressive and mature piece of work advertising Ciaran’s skills and sophistication both as composer and player.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.