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SHANE MCALEER - Long Time No See

SHANE MCALEER - Long Time No See
Private Label

This is the first solo album from the former Dervish fiddler who has been sadly missing from the scene for some years, but who has now reappeared with a flourish and a fine collection of material. There are occasional touches throughout the recording which are reminiscent of that familiar sound which graced Dervish's earlier years but this recording is very much stripped back leaving the fiddle to speak for itself.

Originally from Co Tyrone, Shane is now resident in Belfast and is very much an integral part of the vibrant session scene there. An All Ireland fiddle champion, he plays with a delicacy and lightness of touch, pacing all the tunes perfectly – nothing rushed or overly showy giving the album a refreshingly light feel. Having said that, he also manages to inject plenty of fire into the playing of the livelier tunes without compromising that airiness of mood.

A great mixture of material here, mostly traditional, but also included are a couple of self-penned tunes - Dunluce Castle is a beautiful, haunting slow air and The Camowen is a fine reel named after a river near his home in Omagh. The traditional tunes range in mood and pace giving the album a nice balance. Everything from a great set of marches (Pikeman's and Down The Glen) to barndances, jigs, reels, hornpipes and a few unusual airs - A ?osa Mac Mhuire is an old Gaelic hymn closely resembling the better known Seán O Duibhir A' Ghleanna which sounds familiar but catches your ear because it is just not quite the same.

Recorded, mixed and produced by Eamon McElholm, a fellow Tyrone man (the two went to school together), the recording is gentle, sweet and never overawed by the accompaniment which nicely complements the fiddle and lets the tunes themselves shine through. Eamon also provides subtle guitar and occasional keyboard and cello accompaniment, along with Eamon Murray on bodhran and one track supported by Ryan O'Donnell on bouzouki.

All in all, a straight up, no nonsense recording where the fiddle and the tune are the stars. Highly recommended for anyone into good, honest, steady, unruffled fiddle playing.

Jim Byrne

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.