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MICHAEL McGOLDRICK - "Fused" - Vertical Records VERT051

This is Michael McGoldrick's second solo album. A veteran of Lunasa, Flook, Capercaillie and Toss the Feathers, Michael plays flute, whistles and Irish pipes. He's joined by most of his current and former colleagues, plus a whole heap of people I've never heard of playing trumpets, tablas, electric guitars and the like.

So what's do you get? In just over an hour, McGoldrick and friends run through styles from traditional, world, new age and funk music. There's a lot of Celtic material, mostly Irish, plus a good handful of own compositions. The arrangements vary from almost solo to big band. There are two songs, one from Karen Matheson and one from Karan Casey, but otherwise it's all instrumental.

So what's it like? It's amazing how history repeats itself: I compared McGoldrick's last album to the wilder moments of Planxty, and this one definitely resembles the more bluesy face of Moving Hearts. There's a nice warm, relaxed feel to the whole thing: the reels are slowed down that little bit, the songs have a slightly dreamy quality, and the arrangements are full and vibrant without being overpowering. There's a trumpet solo or two which should perhaps have been shorter, but that's more than made up for by the fabulous treatment of tunes such as "The Otters' Holt" or McGoldrick's own "James Brown's March".

So is it any good? It's better than good. It's innovative, engaging, and fun. The musicianship is, of course, brilliant. In fact, it's exactly what good music should be. It's even mostly traditional.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 37 of The Living Tradition magazine.