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White Meadow Records WMR2017CD

This live recording from the appropriately-named Mount Hooley (which is Alistair’s home) brings together two energetic and vibrant musicians who feed off each other to create a gutsy yet polished sound. Alistair has probably done more than any other single person to promote the musical traditions of Northumberland, and has been doing so for a number of years now. Dan is a relative newcomer, but is becoming a well-respected player and singer in his own right.

Here Alistair provides concertina and Northumbrian pipes, and Dan banjo, guitar and vocals, and their combinations cover a great range of material, from Northumbrian and Scottish traditions, American bluegrass and old-time standards, Alistair’s own peerless compositions, and even a lesser-known Saw Doctors song. No complaints about variety, then!

The playing lifts this CD into the higher reaches of excellence, with a lot of good-natured trading of leads. Try to count the different number of interplaying arpeggios on the likes of Nancy Clough or the Road To The North / Lasses Pass The Brandy encore to hear what I mean. Only musicians who have both a mastery of their own instruments and a comprehensive understanding of each other’s abilities can achieve this level of chemistry whilst making it all sound really laid-back and casual.

Dan’s singing needs to be singled out as well. He has a nicely raspy edge to his voice, which gives a great depth to the songs, which he delivers in a naturally relaxed style.

Top marks, not just to the musicians, but the production as well.

ordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.