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JOHN McCUSKER - "Goodnight Ginger" Pure Records PRCD09

John McCusker can count himself blessed in a number of ways. Not only is he an immensely talented multi-instrumentalist and tunesmith, he can count some of the most talented people around as his mates and put them to serious use on his recordings. Hence we are rewarded with some of the most accomplished performances that Euros can buy.

Tunes are played with the restraint that screams out 'Look at me - I'm the best but don't need to brag it'. Spouse Kate Rusby contributes a haunting rendition of an old song set to a new tune courtesy of Phil Cunningham - The Bold Privateer - that leaves the listener begging for more (and ultimately feeling a tad cheated by the lone contribution). All other tracks are wholly instrumental, but vary between breakneck reels and subtle straphspeys to an air that is more than slightly reminiscent of the theme from Dr Finlay's Casebook (but none the worse for that).

Ian Carr's guitar playing is impeccable throughout (no surprises there) and Michael McGoldrick's flute and whistle wonderful, but the best moments are the duets between McCusker and Simon Thoumire that couldn't have been more tightly matched, and their collective chemistry dazzles. More than any other aspect, it's refreshing to hear an album that considerable care and thought have contributed to, by people that truly love their music. McCusker really is a safe pair of hands.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 51 of The Living Tradition magazine.