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KEITH HINCHLIFFE "Islands" KHCD02

"Guitar Interpretations Of Celtic Music" is the sub title of this CD, and I can think of no better way to describe its contents. Keith is an extremely proficient guitarist with an enviable technique which he employs to great effect throughout this album. Mainly Irish, and Scottish tunes form the body of "Islands", although it's refreshing to note a couple of pieces which are Manx in origin, and the inclusion of the Welsh melody "A Honeyed Lip". He's obviously a keen collector of tunes both familiar, and obscure, 21 of which we are treated to here.

Recorded at his home town of Sheffield during April of this year, Keith's second disc follows on from an album dedicated solely to the writing of Turlough O'Carolan, the celebrated Irish harpist. In fact when listening closely to this album, the guitar performances uncannily seem to echo the sound of a steel strung harp, such is the precise attention to detail.

Although I enjoyed Islands very much, I can't help but feel that there's too much craft, and not enough art. Here is a CD which tells us little about the artistes' personality, instead Keith chooses to give the listener authentic renditions of how the music probably appears when written. This may not be entirely surprising give that he is about to produce a third book cataloguing a variety of Celtic tunes.

Islands is a must for anyone searching for a reference point for a whole range of Celtic tunes, from "The Sheep Under The Snow", to "The Marquis Of Huntly's Strathspey" the musical strength, and variety of traditions remain perfectly intact.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.