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Clan Ranald

You may as well take your socks off before you listen to this, 'cause they ain't gonna be on by the time it's over. Mine were blown off by Trippin', a pair of splendid reels taken to the cleaners by Martin's piano box and Luke's bouzouki. These boys step smartly from the Ulster sound of The Green Fields of Antrim and Dinny McLoughlin's Fairies of Balmagan to a set of jigs with an Asturian feel, to slow airs, and back again. Compositions by Martin account for maybe two thirds of the melodies here, with a few other contemporary tunes and a handful of traditional favourites. The power of the Donegal fiddle heritage comes through strongly on most tracks, and Ciaran Tourish joins the duo for a few sets. The family background is responsible for several tune titles, including Granny Tourish's Reel written by Martin, and Francie Tourish's attributed to a recent ancestor.

The Fortune Teller is a powerful set, a pair of Highlands from Martin's pen: they could take a bit more snap, but they're both fine punchy tunes. Bushfire Dreaming is more delicate, a lovely Highland learnt from box-player Máirtin Wilson, followed by three intricate wee reels. The slow air Caonadh Ár Cultúr is a tour de force, a lament by Martin to mark the clamp down on underage musicians in pubs, obviously a terrible loss, evocative and chilling on full-power accordion.

One or two tracks are a little shaky, reminders that this is a debut album, but the majority are rock solid. Stage Fright is ironically one of the most assured, another masterful air and a couple of jigs ending with the Asturian classic Muñeira de Casu. Piper in the Cave and Cavan Cowboys are equally accomplished, tasty tunes and a steady beat for the step-dancers who add their touch. Luke's solo on Leanbh Mo Chroí is well taken, and Skitatoes forms a suitable finale for this most promising and captivating CD.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.