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Private Label GHI01

Anyone might think that being a founder-member of Mànran and enjoying their success would be quite achievement enough. Add to that rising to the challenge of replacing the iconic Robbie Shepherd as presenter of Take The Floor and your glass would be considerably more than half-full (and of the finest single malt, too.) Partly because of these successes, accordionist Gary has now retired from his international and cup-winning shinty career and from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to concentrate on combining music and family life. Hence, the end of one era, the start of another, and the inspiration for the title of this latest CD.

All the tracks on this album are self-penned, songs as well as tunes - and what a selection, too - a punningly-titled paean of praise to the game of shinty, interpreted here by Robert Robertson, a musing on the ill-fated referendum of 2014 by Alec Dalglish, and Siobhan Miller’s version of a tribute to Gary’s niece, Zara.

In addition to the singers, there are instrumental assists from a mighty team of guests: Ali Hutton, guitars and Highland pipes; Hamish Napier, keys and flute; Duncan Lyall, bass; Steve Byrne, drums; Ewen Henderson, fiddle; Alec Dalglish, electric guitar; and Jarlath Henderson, uillean pipes.

All this gives a very powerful sound, which fairly belts along on the faster numbers, with drive and excitement, yet toning down for the more reflective pieces to get the balance just right. There is a completeness to the overall mix of tracks which makes this already a contender for album of the year.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.