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EMER MAYOCK "Merry Bits of Timber" Key Records KEYCD121

Sometimes musical influences have a way of appearing seamlessly in new traditional compositions without the overt and often unsubtle orchestrations that many recent musicians have deemed necessary. There has always been a lot of room for manoeuvre within the more "traditional" ways of playing, as found in sessions all over Ireland; rock, reggae, and jazz are not the only ways of getting "lift" from the music, as this album proves.

One of the exciting things about this album is that nearly half of the tunes are newly composed. "Cúl na Gr,ine", the beautiful "Changeling's Waltz" and the wandering chromatics of "Great Denmark Street" stand out. As far as arrangements are concerned this is quite a conservative album (not a criticism), focusing instead on the warm, breathy flute as it flies above Donal Siggin's mandola, Kevin O'Connor's fiddle and Robert Harris' percussion. Robert is a superlative bodhran player, and already in high demand.

The Donegal tradition is the source of a lot of the material, including the wacky "Policeman's Holiday" from the playing of Johnny Doherty and a welcome and haunting slow air, a version of "Gaoth Barra na dTonn". Emer has sculpted a beautifully controlled debut album which celebrates the joy of the traditional composer.

Anthony McCann

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.