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BRUCE MACGREGOR - Road To Tyranny 

BRUCE MACGREGOR - Road To Tyranny 
Private Label MACGREGOR001 

Bruce MacGregor is a man of many talents (band leader, radio DJ, author, bar owner) but let’s focus on this recording… It’s an all-instrumental album of Bruce’s own fiddle tunes, with 10 different supporting musicians, usually with only four or five deployed at one time.

There is a good variety of tune types (as perhaps is necessary over a 57-minute set) with less in the way of frantically fast music, and indeed my favourites are two of the slower selections - the grand tune, Essich, and the first of several in waltz time, Linda’s Waltz. The approach to rhythms falls along the spectrum between strict tempo and a soft sprinkling of jazzy swing.

The most frequently used accompaniment is Angus Lyon’s piano, closely followed by Anna Massie’s guitar and banjo, Duncan Lyall on bass and some admirably subtle percussion from Iain Sandilands. Jenna Reid adds additional fiddle, plus multi-tracked string parts on a couple of numbers. Tim Edey guests on several tracks and there are cameos for cello, clarinet, whistle and lap steel guitar. It’s not too crowded – the ‘little big band’ aspect is not overplayed here.

Bruce’s playing has a warm, full tone with good use of the sometimes-neglected lower range of the fiddle; it’s all very pleasing, easy listening in the most positive sense of the term. If you are planning an evening of listening to recordings from Scotland (with suitable refreshments to hand), this album would make an excellent instrumental centrepiece. You can sample it yourself on Bandcamp – go on!

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine