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DEZI DONNELLY - ""Familiar Footsteps" - DD9901

Don't mess about. Start with track 11, three catchy traditional Irish reels played with flair and feeling. Track 12 is another two great reels, finishing with a fabulous version of "The Lads of Laois" which seems to have moved several thousand miles East in the typesetting. The final track is a gorgeous spine-shivering version of the air "Paddy's Rambles through the Park", which shows that Dezi Donnelly can be poignant as well as powerful. Then ask yourself why you haven't heard much of this fiddle player before.

Let's get one thing straight: this is not Dezi Donnelly's first outing on CD. He has at least two duo albums on the Magnetic Music label, plus three or four recordings with folk-rockers "Toss the Feathers", as well as featuring on several Magnetic compilations and possibly other recordings of which I am unaware. However, this is his first widely-available solo CD. One reason for this is that he's horrifyingly young, and another is that he's been very busy playing in Germany for the last few years.

Okay, now start from the top. Track 1 is more reels, with a slight lapse of concentration on "Dowd's" but otherwise brilliant. Track 2 is a lovely, relaxed swagger through "Paddy Rafferty's Jig". Track 3 is an unhurried set of reels with a wee wobble (or is that Jazz?) on "Sean McGuire's", and you begin to notice the lovely bouncy piano of Andy Jones.

Next comes a pair of jigs given a lyrical feel with discreet guitar accompaniment, then another reel and a couple of hornpipes played with bags of style. The following two Scottish reels breathe a bit more fire into the fiddle, and after some good old-fashioned Irish jigs and a virtuoso performance of "Lord Gordon's Reel" it's back to track 11 again.

Rest assured, you'll be hearing more of Dezi Donnelly, if only because you'll probably buy this CD.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.