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DUNCAN WOOD & GUESTS - Swarbtricks

DUNCAN WOOD & GUESTS - Swarbtricks
Private Label SWB121117

Okay, so this is how it works guys: Dave Swarbrick has a backlog of tunes – by the dozen – and transmits them over the net to Duncan Wood, who lovingly arranges them and records them with an accomplished group of kindred spirits, namely Cathal McConnell, Martin MacDonald, Gavin Sutherland and Maureen Hunter. Does it have the unique vibe that is the essence of Swarb’s playing? Not really, but the tunes are without a doubt from the repertoire of the man himself, and the arrangements are delightful throughout.

Of the 37 tunes, spread over 17 tracks, some are just stunningly performed – Martin MacDonald’s guitar work on Still Waters is controlled, tender and delivered with aplomb. Duncan Wood himself is a gifted exponent of the violin/viola and mandolin/mandola and has handled the source material with obvious sensitivity; a particular favourite medley of mine is The Sunny Day Hornpipe / Eye Of The Needle (jig) which rocks from start to finish.

If you are unsure about committing to listen to an entire album of Trad-style tunes, I’d say that this is as good a place to start as any. Jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches and airs are melded together brilliantly and DW has captured the essence of the master himself. A final lullaby, Close Of Day, coupled with a tune for Swarb’s Mum (Mabel Gwendoline) rounds off a stunning set, and at over an hour, you certainly get yer money’s worth. Swarb’s obviously in fine productive form again.

Grem Devlin


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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.