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Private Label  LTCD9007

This twenty-something fiddler from Nova Scotia has popped up on Irish and Scottish CDs in the past, but Elemental is her solo debut. She describes it as "progressive yet easy-listening" - I'd go along with that, and add that this description is mostly positive: Gillian's music builds on traditional material in a sympathetic way, and is gentle on the ear but not bland or background. For a Canadian fiddler, there's a surprising lack of speed and sparks on this recording - track 4 is the first real injection of pace, and Gillian only achieves top gear once more in eleven tracks. Nothing wrong with that, and there are some truly beautiful moments in her slow pieces: a gorgeous silky touch on Lorraine's Dream by Brendan Power with soft lounge backing, and a tremendous final solo rendition of John McCusker's slow air St Bride's Way.

McCusker and Power supply several of the compositions here. I have to admit I prefer the original versions of Xesus & Felisa and Jig Jazz, but Ms Boucher makes a fine job of Farewell to Muswell Hill, applying her languid bow brilliantly to Brendan's lazy rising runs. In addition to drums and bass, Gillian is joined by guitarist Andrew White on most tracks: Andrew's tunes Greenstone Waters and Victory Road are clear highlights of this album. The opening Summer School Waltz is another great number, just quirky enough to keep you on your toes, and beautifully smooth. Slow and sultry is where she excels, but this fiddler can play fast too: The Humours of Lissadell is neatly turned, and the trio of reels ending with The Red Haired Lass might be my favourite track here. Unfortunately the website doesn't seem to be up and running yet, but you can find Gillian on Facebook and Myspace - well worth the clicks!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.