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Reviews

John McCuskerJohn McCusker
Album: Hello, Goodbye
Label: Under One Sky
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.johnmccusker.co.uk

If you asked most young fiddle players to name one player who has inspired them, John McCusker is going to come near the top of the list. One of the leading lights of Scottish music, sharing the stage with diverse personalities such as Paolo Nutini and Mark Knopfler, as well as composing music for the likes of Billy Connolly and Jennifer Saunders. Hello, Goodbye is the first released on McCusker's own label and the first recorded in his bothy based studio.

The all-star line-up tells you this album is going to be something special before you've even put it in the CD Player. Andy Cutting, Ian Carr and Mike McGoldrick have all lent their exceptional talents to this project, adding sparkle and brilliance across every track. Of course the stars of this album are McCusker's stunning compositions. I've listened to lots of albums where one or two tracks have stood out and made me go "I need to learn that". On this album, I want to learn all of them! Every single track is engaging as both a listener and a musician, with never a dull moment.

The opening track Calendar Boys has an amazing grounded feeling to it, an earthy quality to the melody. I like that the album doesn't start with full on fireworks, instead lighting the touch paper convincingly so that you want to hear more. The quality definitely doesn't fizzle out, no damp squibs here. The wedding starts to move up a gear with a lovely groove to the tune and accompaniment, possibly top of the must learn list. The Bothy jigs, no doubt named for McCusker's new state of the art studio, built in the shell of a 1779 Bothy also have a fantastic feel to them, gorgeous tunes that get your foot tapping from the first note. Possibly the stand out track on the album for me is the more understated set of waltzes. Named for John's wife and daughter, these are beautiful, poignant tunes, enhanced by the mandolin of Tim O'Brien.

After a 12 year hiatus, this is a confident and assured album with poise and flair. John's compositional and instrumental genius is beautifully supported be a stellar cast of musicians. John is next south of the border in October for Derby Folk Festival. Buy a ticket, until then, go and buy this album, you won't be disappointed.

Nicky Grant