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Sheem Music SHEEM01

It’s a pretty appealing idea, really; “let’s go to an old lodge house in South Uist, stay there for a few days, play a concert and record an album.” That’s an invitation I’m still waiting for, but there are good musical reasons for that! As a concept, though, this has worked brilliantly.

The trio are the eponymous Simon Bradley, fiddle, viola, mandolin; Anna-Wendy Stevenson, fiddle, viola ; and Matheu Watson, guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle. The combinations of instrumentation are numerous and consistently engaging. The extra depth that a viola can bring to a set of tunes is highlighted in the overall sound, which is rich and layered, whilst always perfectly balanced. There is a swing jazz feel to a number of the tracks, whilst others reflect the influences on Simon of his time with the magnificent Asturian group Llan de Cubel.  Indeed, the only two tunes on the whole CD which were not written by Simon are Asturian (and he wrote the second parts of them, too.) That doesn’t mean that it’s a one-man band by any means, as the crossover of instruments allow Anna-Wendy and Matheu to take an equal share of the credit for the overall sound.  There are several wind-farms’ worth of energy in the playing, and an exceptional tightness to the whole album, and the quality is just what you’d expect from such a talented threesome.

For those who can read music, all the tunes are contained in Simon and Pierce Bradley’s book, Buncrana To Baleshare, as are the stories behind the tune titles.  This is a CD which should be in everyone’s collection.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.