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SEÁN GAVIN - The Fisherman's Island 

SEÁN GAVIN - The Fisherman's Island 
Private Label 

Old school Irish button box in the mould of Paddy O'Brien or Joe Burke, this album is the culmination of a long and illustrious career in traditional music. Although not as well-known as his younger brother Frankie, Seán Gavin has won many awards over the years. He is accompanied here by his children on harp, keyboards, guitar and viola, and by George Grasso on Galway Greek bouzouki. The sound is sweet and flowing, whether on mazurkas, airs, hornpipes, Carolan pieces, or the reels and jigs which account for slightly more than half the music here. The heavily ornamented versions of The Humours Of Ballyloughlin or Johnny McGreevy's Reel contrast nicely with the snappier treatment of Scottish-influenced tunes such as The Braes Of Busby and Willie Hunter's Compliments To Dan R MacDonald. The title tune by Ed Reavy ends a medley of strathspey and Skinner reel which is a clear highlight of The Fisherman's Island.

The Girl Of The Big House, An Raibh Tú Ag An gCarraig, The Green Fields Of Woodford, The Poppy Leaf, Loftus Jones, Martin Wynne's, Poll Ha'penny and many more - old melodies mindfully played, this CD is full of them. It should be noted that Mr Gavin plays mainly a G/G# box, and plays most of his tunes in flat keys, rather lower pitched than usual which is both a delight for the ears and a torment for the fingers of those who wish to play along with this recording. Fine musicianship, lovely accompaniment, and a great range of material make this a wonderful album for listening or dancing, but beware of joining in without checking the tuning. The notes are informative and detailed, and the CD sleeve is also very attractive. I expect The Fisherman's Island will be available from the usual Irish music outlets, and in the absence of his own website you can find Seán on gmail as seangavinacc - I'm sure he'll be happy to take enquiries.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine