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Rumford Records RUMFORDCD02

Falkirk fiddler Fielding credits Tom Orr (accordion and piano) and Donogh Hennessy (guitars) as co-conspirators on her second solo-ish CD, and in fact there is a whole host of guests who play an important part on this album, but Marie is certainly the dominant figure here. One look at the front cover tells you this red-head probably has “don't mess with me” tattooed on her tailpiece, and rightly so: her music is seriously good, whether it's the traditional Irish reel Tuttle's, her own numerous reels and jigs, or the several slower pieces which really show Marie Fielding's composing talent. Her dreamy fiddle on Miss Meabh's and Laura's Tune is strongly reminiscent of Aly Bain, and there are a couple of other Shetland influences too, so once Tom Orr's box gets into gear, it's hard not to draw comparisons with Bain and Cunningham. Favourable comparisons: Damo's Fish Tank has that Tobermory swagger mastered by Phil and Fergie, the title track has all the poignancy of Aly's slow airs and the combination of Betsy Boo with a bit of banjo brings back memories of Silly Wizard in their heyday.

What more could you want? Yet more is offered by Fielding and friends; a strathspey which doubles very well as a reel, a slowed-down version of hurdy-gurdy god Giles Chabenat's brilliant Les Poules Huppées which is even better at speed, and a funky walking bass set where Donogh's modern Irish groove cuts through cleanly. The final track is a slight surprise, but a pleasant one, as Michael Herlihy produces a splendid accordion solo version of the great Galway lament Amhran Na Leabhar: It's a long story, and a sad one, which you should google if you don't know it. While you're online, explore which doesn't tell you much more about this CD but does have sample tracks from An Trá and many of Marie's previous recordings. There probably won't be a big media fuss about this release, but it's a wee treasure nonetheless, well worth seeking out. Live performances by this trio should be equally memorable, but like I said, don't mess with the fiddler until you know her better.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.