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Private Label MCG002 

Damien McGeehan, best known as one third of fiddle group Fidil, has never been afraid of innovation, as demonstrated on his excellent first solo release featuring his traditional Donegal tin fiddle to create an entire soundscape. Moving on from the idea of using a solo instrument in multiple ways, Kin takes the whole concept to a different level; on this occasion no less than 13 musicians and a bewildering variety of instruments have been gathered together, along with Damien’s wife Shauna Mullin – a very fine singer – and a backing vocalist.

Damien’s given his imagination a free rein, taking off from the springboard of his traditional background to plunge into the worlds of New Orleans, soul and blues, but he always manages to preserve the flavour of his North West Irish roots. Shauna contributes three songs, which add contrast to the package and confirm that her singing has matured over recent years. My favourite was her interpretation of Richard Thompson’s Strange Affair.

Does this innovative approach succeed? Largely, yes. Almost inevitably, given the ambitious range that the album covers, some things work better than others, but it’s all interesting. I really enjoyed Runnin’ On Bourbon, but then I expected more of Dulamán na Binne Búidhe.

I suspect that those who know Damien’s work will appreciate what he’s done with the traditional Irish tracks (and the songs), but hopefully there’s also an audience out there who will be happy to have their musical boundaries stretched, as I did.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine