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Macmeanmna SKYCD 15

No mater how you slice it, the most common sounds in the collective recorded output of Scottish music is that of the piano accordion and the fiddle. On "Close To Home", the sound of the fiddle can be heard as "guest instrument" on some tracks (banjo, snare drum, piano and border pipes join in from time to time as well) but the main action is from the mouth organs and harmonicas of Donald Black and the electric and acoustic guitar collection of Malcolm Jones. Together they bring back some of the bracing freshness of the Scottish west coast to this collection of tunes and airs.

Donald Black and Malcolm Jones have been playing partners for several years, at festivals, clubs and ceilidhs. Malcolm Jones is best known through his work with Runrig and his increasing involvement in the production and recording side of the music business. Malcolm can be heard on the impressive back catalogue of Runrig recordings and the band's new album, which should be out early next year. Donald Black has been a player of the mouth organ for well over thirty years. He is also something of a perfectionist, both in his style of playing and with the type of music he creates. Donald has a CD, " Westwinds", on the Greentrax label which, like this new CD "Close To Home", shows how he likes things "just so".

Much use of studio facilities is made on many of these sets. "Close to Home", "Harper on the Harp", " Irish Jig and Reels", "The Ballachulish Stomp" and "The Kitchen Maid, The Thief and The Tailor", are all good going stuff, with lift and drive to spare. The slow airs "Island of Scalpy" and "Island Mist" both have a touch of ambient drama added to the mix but they are well done and work out fine. As well as traditional material there are a couple, "Close to Home" and "The Ardgour Beef Rustler", from the writing of Malcolm Jones and a good handful of fine tunes from Addie Harper.

A fine collaboration of differing styles and musical personalities, playing and presenting the kind of material that both musicians have a great respect and fondness for.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.