Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Private Label PGR0001  

There's a proud tradition of albums celebrating the music of those who have left us too soon. Recent examples include tributes to Fraser Shaw, Colleen Jenish, and now Paul Ruane. No doubt there will be more as a result of the current pandemic. Paul was a fiddler from Leeds, of Irish parentage, who settled into the Newcastle music scene in the 1990s and was recognised for both his playing and his teaching. This collection is unusual in that Paul had already recorded the tracks as a memento of his music for the family and for posterity, along with his wife Dee whose excellent box and whistle skills fill out the sound. A number of other musicians have added their contributions since Paul's untimely death in 2016, including Paul and Dee's two daughters, Dave Wood and Louis Bingham on fretted strings, and fluter Norman Holmes who also produced the album.

Sound is music from the heart of the Irish tradition, warm and relaxed like a family session, and jogs along at an easy pace, allowing space for these great tunes to breathe, without losing the lift and spirit of good dance music. It's mostly reels, typical of modern sessions, with three sets of jigs thrown in, providing a nicely symmetrical sequence. Most of the melodies are well known - The Gatehouse Maid, The Shaskeen Jig, The Berehaven, Maud Millar's, The Cow That Ate the Blanket, Hunter's House and Anderson's just to pick a few. Paul's own composition, Orla's Reel, is a driving addition to the Irish repertoire, and Sweet Is The Name Of Peggy by the enigmatic Mr Lowe is a distinctive reel which reminds me of Finbarr Dwyer tunes as much as anything. For the rest, sit back and enjoy the familiar music, or pick up an instrument and play along, and spare a thought for departed musicians and for those left behind.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine