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Private Label SDB20122

A second studio outing in as many years for this Belfast banjoman is welcome indeed. His first album About Time was tasty enough, and this one follows the same menu with traditional fare expertly served. Stevie Dunne winds up that long-tailed biscuit tin of his and lets it rip into reels, jigs, more reels and jigs, the occasional hornpipe and barn dance, and some jigs and reels to finish. He has a surprisingly delicate touch on The Drunken Sailor and The Maple Leaf, but the general approach is one of energy and lift. There's a great swing to The Rose In The Heather, some wonderfully blurred low tones on Waiting For You, and plenty of other banjo jewels to enjoy.

Stevie's style and repertoire are strongly influenced by Ulster role models. Cathal Hayden and Josephine Keegan both rate a mention, but he has broadened his horizons to include Willie Clancy, Micho Russell, Charlie Lennon and recent generations of world-wide Irish musicians. His own compositions, of which there are three here, explore the full banjo compass from growling bass notes to bright treble triplets. He's joined by a formidable band of backing musicians: Sean Og Graham, Arty McGlynn, Michael McCague, Eamon Murray and Ryan O'Donnell, with Dave Munnelly on button box and Stephen Hayden on fiddle. Tracy Ryan sings Ye Rambling Boys Of Pleasure, a rare opportunity to hear banjo accompanying traditional vocals. The other dozen tracks provide a fine mix of arrangements, showcasing Stevie's excellent playing throughout. As Seamus O'Kane says in his introduction: “If this doesn't move you, consult your doctor.”

Alex Monaghan


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.