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Reveal Records REVEAL046CDX

Musician’s musician, guitarist Ian Carr is rightly cherished and celebrated for his innovative and quirky originality, both as collaborative accompanist to the likes of Kate Rusby, Eddi Reader, Kris Drever and John McCusker, and in his duo/group and project work with Karen Tweed/Swap, Simon Thoumire and others in the UK and Sweden where he has settled. This debut solo album certainly richly reveals his freely eccentric and cleverly styled individuality as player, composer and arranger.

Billed as “abstract folk music”, the spirited adventures of the nine original pieces have perhaps more sonic similarities with modern composed music than folk; as wiry then as it is fruity perhaps if you follow my punditry! Ian’s recognisably crystal clear, crisply clipped guitar style, rapid and precisely detailed, catchy and hypnotic in its repeated rhythmic patterns, is very evident and often tightly interwoven with Maria Jonsson’s viola d’amore and Staffan Lindors’ bass accompaniment. Other instruments contributing to the artistic variety are some electric guitar, harmonium, mandolin, trumpet and kora (Lamine Cissokho) and there is also some singing, most notably that of Carina Normansson on the very pleasing melody of Just Nu.

This release reinforces Ian’s reputation for subtle rather than showy expression of his virtuosity and, indeed, possessing a certain comic charm. Occasionally chequered in its compositional character, overall the abundance of tricksy eccentricity in the harmonic ideas, rhythmic interest and conjuring of counterpoint provide music sometimes insistent in its ear worming catchiness with an arresting range of atmospheric moods and other sound elements.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 107 of The Living Tradition magazine.