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Macmeanmna SKYECD56

The sub-title Bagpipe-Led Traditional Music From The Isle Of Skye gives the game away here! The trio of Angus Nicolson, Murdo Cameron and Andrew MacPherson combine Highland and Border pipes, whistles, guitar and bodhrán, with guests Duncan Lyall, Allan Henderson and Iain MacFarlane adding double bass, fiddle and piano, and button box respectively.

The overall sound, produced by Allan, is extremely well-balanced, with each instrument having a real clarity of tone which lets the listener appreciate how they all contribute to the totality. This composite sound is a delight from start to finish, with a full range of tempi. Listen to the third track, where the music segues flowingly from a haunting interpretation of the hymn A Dhia Thoir Dhuinn Na Gràsan into a jaunty and vigorous pair of reels, Colll And Emily’s and The Crock Of Gold. Listen out, too, for the relatively unusual playing of The Clare Jig in the key of A major, a key that is not the easiest to master, but you’d never guess from listening to this inspired version.

The playing is consistently fresh and crisp, exploring fully the interplay between the instruments, and the changing instrumentation between the tracks adds another layer of interest to what can only be described as a great credit to the musicians and all the production team involved. The band are drawing from their rich heritage and giving it a treatment which combines their love of their traditions whilst also taking a fresh approach to execution. The result is one of the finest CDs of the year.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.