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CIARÁN RYAN - Banjaxed 

CIARÁN RYAN - Banjaxed 
Private Label 

Ciarán Ryan was born in Brechin, into an Irish family, and moved to Edinburgh to get involved in the local music scene. In demand as a session musician, he has also played in groups such as Adam Holmes And The Embers, Salsa Celtica and Dallahan. So, there have been a lot of people wondering when the solo album would appear, and they now have their question answered in the shape of this excellent CD.

Ciarán plays tenor banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, accompanied by Donald Hay (percussion) and Bevan Morris (double bass and fretless bass guitar). Guests are Angus Lyon, Wurlitzer; Toby Shippey, trumpet; and Chris Waite, whistle. All of this, as you might expect, adds up to a refreshingly innovative sound, but one that totally draws from the tradition.

There is a sparkling clarity to Ciarán’s playing, especially in his banjo work, which gives a jaunty feel to the arrangements. Add in the sympathetic accompaniments and the overall results fairly zip along with a whole lot of panache. This does not mean overemphasis on speed, however, as there is a sensitivity to the music throughout, in which all the musicians’ contributions are given their due weight.

Most of the tunes are Ciarán’s own compositions, sitting comfortably within his own traditions whilst still pushing at the edges to create new and fresh developments. The overall effect is a mixture of lightness and depth which will reach out to audiences everywhere. An excellent solo debut.

Gordon Potter


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine