Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry - “At First Light”- VERTCD061

Will the real Michael McGoldrick please stand up – or, at least, stand still long enough for us to get a fix on him?  I first encountered the Manchester piper and flautist in the original incarnation of local Irish folk-rockers Toss The Feathers.  Then there was Lunasa, jointly founded with his compatriot on this CD, from which both moved on to pursue other projects – McSherry to join Donal Lunny’s Coolfin and McGoldrick to work with Capercaillie.  There were the memorable Manchester appearances with Yates/McGill and the Afro Celt Sound System.  The Michael McGoldrick Band had the audience shouting for more at this year’s Cambridge Festival.  The man features on any number of other artists’ CDs, most recently with Dezi Donnelly on Karan Casey’s second solo album (like “At First Light”, recorded at Glasgow’s Secret Music); and, when he’s home, you’re quite likely to run across him at a session somewhere in his native city.

McGoldrick and John McSherry have been playing together in sessions since the early ‘90s, and it shows in the remarkable musical empathy which characterises “At First Light”.  They’re joined by Dezi Donnelly, Manus Lunny and Ed Boyd (not forgetting Paul McSherry and Andrew White on guitars, Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle, Ewen Vernal on double bass and Donald Shaw on keyboards) for a mixture of traditional tunes from Ireland and Brittany, together with some new material.  The musicianship is, as you might expect, quite stunning; even if you feel that a little of the average Irish session goes a long way, you’ll marvel at the tightness of these performances.  Production is by McGoldrick, McSherry and Shaw, and it’s apparent that they can do as effective a job behind the glass as in front of the mics.  It’s unlikely you’ll come across a finer CD in the genre this year.

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 45 of The Living Tradition magazine.