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JOSIE NUGENT - Modal Citizen 

JOSIE NUGENT - Modal Citizen 
Private Label JNBS002

Clare fiddler and fifty percent of two fine duo albums, Josie Nugent presents over a dozen of her own compositions together with half that number of traditional tunes on this solo debut CD. The title plays on the old modes of Irish music, not so fashionable in newer compositions, but Josie has written some pieces which certainly have those ancient visceral cadences of the Dorian and Mixolydian modes. She's also chosen older melodies with these same characteristics: The Brisk Young Lad, The Champion and Paddy On The Turnpike among others. Josie's own tunes range from the evocative air, First Flight, to the rumbustuous reel, Droichid Doire, celebrating Derry's bridges and commissioned for a performance in 2013. One or two of these creations are almost too modal for Irish traditional music: the slip reel, Down To Uppsala, and the waltz air, Éadan Doire, seem closer to Breton music in fact, as does the end of the descriptive piece, Lisfannon Sundays.

By contrast, the opening trio of slip jigs couldn't be anything other than Irish, and Clare Irish at that. Josie plays them like a young Martin Hayes - she even has the hair for it. Although they are inspired by Cambridge experiences, it's as if they never left the Burren. Josie, on the other hand, is well travelled inside and outside Ireland, and she's acquired a number of musical friends who appear on this recording: fiddlers Nigel and Dianna Boullier and Geordie McAdam, guitarists Sean O'Donnell and Alan Burke, Seamus O'Kane on bodhrán, and percussionists Mark Wilson and Matt Weir. There are also fine performances from Josie's duo partners: her sister Mary on flute, of course, and Brian Stafford on uilleann pipes. Josie plays fiddle, octave fiddle, piano, and a wonderful stroh fiddle by Geordie McAdam. The ensemble playing is not always as tight as it might be on the newer pieces, but there's a good balance between spontaneity and polish here. This is a highly varied and entertaining CD, and I'm sure Ms Nugent has a very successful modaling career ahead of her. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.