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DAVY STEELE "Chasing Shadows" Hypertension-Music HYCD297171

If there was any justice in the wonderful world of folk and traditional music, Davy Steele would be right up there with the Gaughans and Moores.

As it is he's probably too weel-kent to be an icon but this new album could be the one to change all that. It's a solo album (with friends) and is on a par with anything he's produced to date with the High C's - Ceolbeg, Clan Alba or Caledon - and that's some recommendation.

On the eleven tracks Steele the Songwriter appears five times with diverse themes. "Brand New Day" tells of the Highland Clearances; "Long Hellos Short Goodbyes" is a very personal love song; "Jimmy Waddell" - inspired by Davy's father - is a recruiting song with the final line "An' this is 1914 so whit chance is there o war"; and in "Chasing Shadows" Mammon gets a mugging, with a fine ending to the last verse "No need to own a forest just cherish every tree".

Probably the highlight of the self-written songs is "Scotland Yet" where the abovementioned Mr Gaughan accompanies on guitar. This isn't the Scottish standard about the Honours Three but an optimistic look into a Scottish future.

Of the non-original material the album opener is a fine rendition of "Kishmul's Galley" with percussion by the Barra-load and there's a beautiful version of "The Loch Tay Boat Song" done simply and very effectively.

There's a brace of the less-performed Burns' songs in "Tam Glen" and "Tibby Dunbar" and a couple of what should be hoary old chestnuts - "Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her" and "The Calton Weaver" - but which come over rather well.

The backing musicians are first rate: Mike Travis beats things, Aaron Jones picks, Brian McAlpine tinkles on the synthetic ivories and Alan Henderson pipes up from time to time. There are also excellent contributions from Mrs Steele - Patsy Seddon - and sister-Silean Mary Macmaster.

It's a very laid-back album which might have been the better for the inclusion of a couple of rousers but it bears repeated playings and I'm sure Davy won't be the only one happy with the overall result.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 22 of The Living Tradition magazine.