REVIEW – THE LIVING TRADITION

Ian Green, supremo of Greentrax, keeps getting deserved recognition from the industry for all his contributions to traditional music. One of his many talents is to know a damn fine band when he hears one, and then give them a recording contract. Which is just what he’s done again with these guys, who are the eponymous Paul McKenna, vocals, guitar; David McNee, Bouzoukis; Ruairidh Macmillan, fiddle; Se├ín Gray, flute, whistles; and Ewan Baird, bodhran.

Paul has a distinctive, clear voice and he tackles with aplomb a mixture of his own compositions and traditional numbers, some of which are sung to different airs, such as Red Mary to the tune of Willie Taylor, and Carnlough Bay to one of Paul’s melodies.

The instrumental arrangements and playing are outstanding throughout. The guitar and bouzoukis provide a rhythmic drive, the fiddle, flute and whistles intertwine beautifully and the bodhran is shown to be an instrument capable of subtlety and innovation.

They are a band whose live stage act is both engaging and memorable, and this release, adroitly recorded by the redoubtable Kris Koren and John Weatherby, captures that spark and vigour. In addition, this is one of those CDs which benefits from repeated listening, as there are layers of subtleties in there which just keep adding to the enjoyment.

Gordon Potter

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