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Rhubana Records RRCD001

Shaw and Martin have appeared on over 100 recordings between them, as well as being current members of The Poozies (Eilidh) and Dàimh (Ross). After 15 years together, they finally decided to make an album while their kids were at school. The logistics were complicated, as there was a 40-minute ferry ride between the studio (at the Gaelic College in Skye) and the school drop-off (Morar). But on this set of toe-tappers and thoughtful airs, they make the complex and turbulent appear effortless and smooth.

The CD opens with the vamping of a gypsy swing guitar, whereupon a lone fiddle wanders in, jauntily, setting the tone for the release. They include some pipe tunes to establish the pedigree, but they also meander into other territory. There is fancy guitar on a set of hornpipes, a lovely arrangement of Mo Mhathair, and a fine set of waltzes from tunes made famous by Elvis (Presley, not Costello…). I Can’t Help Falling In Love works especially well. It all ends brilliantly, with a version of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, along with a dandy languid fiddle line that washes over the listener. Since this is a duo release, the couple relies on variation in arrangement and trading off leads to maintain the interest.

Overall, there is a relaxed and homey atmosphere to the CD. Despite the sometimes-rough ferry rides to the studio, Shaw and Martin sound like a relaxed couple at home, playing a few tunes to calm the kids after a day of excitement at school.

Ivan Emke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.