Alana Cline is a young fiddler who has been building a fine reputation in Canada. She deserves to be better known here. With strong support from her father Leigh on guitar, she has come up with an album which reflects her exposure from the age of eight to the Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton traditions. Her tutors have included Cape Breton fiddler Sandy MacIntyre and Irish fiddler Maeve Donnelly, and she was the first Canadian to be accepted at the Meitheal School of Irish Traditional Music in Limerick.
That’s some of the background. In the foreground are 10 sets of tunes which had me dancing round the room and punching the air in delight. Her playing has strong melodies, bounce and vibrancy, with subtlety and inventiveness in all the right places. The Kerry Lassie Set was learnt from Maeve Donnelly and Huntingstone Castle Set from Sandy MacIntyre. I did hear the different traditions coming closer together into a distinctive style. Drowsy Maggie Variations is an outstanding demonstration of this process.
Leigh’s accompaniment on guitar helps his daughter fly. He has had a long career as a folk music performer, festival organiser and sound engineer. His interest in Balkan music is reflected here in his composition Offset. He learnt two tunes in the Slip Jigs set from Aly Bain and The Boys Of The Lough during their early North American tours.
The album is on the Toronto-based Scimitar Records label. It is not too hard to find, and well worth the effort.