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Shearwater Music  SWMCD004

This is the debut album from Malcolm, a young fiddler from Tasmania, with a strong Scottish heritage.  His parents, John and Caroline Bushby, will be known to many through their involvement in the trad music scene in both Tasmania and their present home in Northumberland, and through their work with the band Tantallon.  Malcolm has clearly been influenced by them and by the fine array of fiddlers with whom he has studied since coming to the UK.

Malcolm himself is an accomplished fiddler, and he has enlisted the help of several other excellent musicians to create an album with a good mix of instrumentation and variation in sound.  It is a family affair too, with John playing whistles, bouzouki, guitar and pipes, and Caroline playing clarsach.

The content is a mix of traditional material, and that of some well known Scottish and Irish writers, and Malcolm has an ear for a good tune.  He doesn’t opt for the flashy, self-indugent, sometimes tuneless tunes that we hear so often these days, and this is a refreshing and welcome change.  The one tune on the album that comes from his own pen, Trip To Harris, sits nicely alongside the other material – again, his immersion in the tradition showing through.  He also appears to have a fondness for the slower tunes, which he plays with a lovely sweetness and great skill.

It isn’t all perfect.  In places the recorded sound of the fiddle is not as clear as it could be, and a couple of the tracks have tuning issues, but this is real fiddling, played by someone who understands and loves what he is doing, and that is what shines through.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.