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Private Label SCAREC003 

Ewen Henderson has been batting near the top of the order - notably with Battlefield Band - for a decade now. The fact that this is his first solo recording more than justifies the description of it as eagerly-awaited, and nobody who is familiar with his work in a group setting will be in the least bit disappointed by his prowess as he moves to centre stage.

Not that the path ahead has proved straightforward and predictable. He might have set out with visions of a closely structured breakdown of his musical career, but he finishes up with exactly what he fancies and what sticks in his mind. He has plenty of influences and potential directions to choose from - and plenty of instruments upon which he is sufficiently expert to lead the way. His multi-instrumental skills extend to the fiddle, viola, piano, pipes (Highland and small), whistles and harmonium.

He is also the sole vocalist here, all the songs in the collection being in Gaelic. Neither they nor the various tune sets show any signs of predictability, perhaps because he is always looking for points of reference outside the usual confines of the music. Two tracks in particular illustrate this. Limassol's Waltz is a tune to commemorate the defeat of Henderson's football team, Aberdeen, by the Cypriot Champions in the Europa League - it seemed the magnanimous thing to do, he says in his sleeve notes. Likewise its companion piece, The Sanditon Ball, composed during a few slack moments in between recording the soundtrack for Jane Austen's unfinished novel.

A fine solo debut.

Dave Hadfield


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine