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Shoebox Recordings SBR003 

Well, we’re all sitting around, confined to barracks, nowhere to go and not much to do. A nice feeling then when the postie delivers something, and even better when it’s a CD of this quality! Full Tilt brings together Gemma Donald, fiddle and piano; Manus McGuire, fiddle; Brian Nicholson, guitar and vocals; and Alan Small, accordion and MIDI bass. This is a combination of Shetland and Ireland, and the synthesis works seamlessly.

Each of the musicians is well-known as a solo performer, and here they have put together a varied selection of sets drawn from their traditions and beyond, fusing it all into a highly listenable collection indeed. The driving Shetlandic style of fiddling can be contrasted with the very fluid playing which Manus has made his own, and all the tunes show that real care has gone into the arrangements, with everyone getting their chance to feature. Add in the fact that Brian’s singing brings out a pawky Shetlandic humour in a clear and melodic voice and the total package is one that is very pleasing to the ear.

A tip of the hat should also go to John Weatherby of Sound Sense, whose engineering has made the whole production balanced and allows everyone to be clearly distinguished.

The CD would make anyone want to hear this band live, although that’s not happening for a wee while yet, but it’s an excellent way to dispel the lockdown boredom, and could even get you dancing around a bit, too, which can’t be bad.

Gordon Potter


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine