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UP IN THE AIR - Moonshine

UP IN THE AIR - Moonshine
Journeyman Recordings JYM003

Two fiddlers and a percussionist, building on their eponymous 1994 album and the more recent Hardie-Marwick collaboration The Blue Lamp: this trio combine hard-core traditional Scottish music with contemporary songs, and vice versa at times. Jonny Hardie and Davy Cattanach were founder members of Old Blind Dogs, and Gavin Marwick of The Iron Horse, both progressive folk bands, so there's a modern vibe to this music, strongest on Davy's three songs which range from cajun to calypso via bluegrass country. The eight instrumental tracks stick mainly to the traditional Scots and Irish idiom, with twin fiddles and guitars backed up by fabulously innovative percussion. The likes of Rector At The Feis, Scott Skinner's Compliments To Dr MacDonald and Eileen Curren's Reel have been recorded a few times and are to be heard on the Scottish session scene.

Other tunes here are less well known. The Diamond Reel, Mr & Mrs Alex Ross, Culduthel House and others are gleaned from old collections, and there are a handful of intriguingly named compositions by Hardie and Marwick. There are also some slow versions of traditional tunes: Garret Barry's Jig, The 32nd Guards Brigade and the gorgeous Gaelic air Braes Of Lochiel which has featured on a few recordings recently. Gavin and Jonny's fiddling does justice to all this fine material, and Jonny also sings the Peter Stott song Woe Is Me. Jonny and Davy pick delicate guitar chords around the tunes and songs, adding variety to a full trio sound. Some of the stylistic leaps on Moonshine take a bit of getting used to - Davy's singing voice is closer to Aberdeen's Canadian namesake than Deeside's famously canny granite city - but there's no doubting the quality of Up In The Air's music. More information is available from which also has links to some of Gavin's other projects.

Alex Monaghan


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.