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Matt TigheMatt Tighe
Album: Matt Tighe
Label: Greentrax
Tracks: 10

Brilliant albums worry me, it's why I tend to take too long to review them. They have a way of getting to me that the merely very good don't. Very good is easy to recognise, like brilliant very good tends to have staying power and appeal for a wider range of reasons. I really distrust brilliant when it's someone I know or someone I've worked with. Is this really as good as "London Calling", "Parallel Lines" or "Rumours" or do I just want it to be?

In a few short weeks I obviously can't answer the longevity question, but repeated plays, sometimes back to back, begin to tease out the answer, I turn to friends, friends more knowledgeable about instrumentation and technique to validate my original thoughts. I look at other clues, this isn't a self released album, this is a debut album released on Greentrax, a Scottish label with a world wide reputation for traditional music, and which hasn't released a debut like this for years.

The album is Matt Tighe's self-titled debut and it's a real firecracker, not only that, it's instrumental, with albums by solo instrumentalists notoriously difficult to breakthrough, it's your name on the sleeve, there's no hiding, this is not the Matt Tighe trio etc. That's not to say there aren't other musicians, Matt has called on respected players that he has performed with in the past, I say the past, he's barely in his twenties, Tad Sargent, Chris O'Malley, James Lindsay, Luke Daniels and Brian McNeill, who also produced the album.

Brian McNeill, as well has being a member of The Battlefied Band, Clan Alba and Feast Of Fiddles has also taught and supported scores of young musicians, he's a man whose knowledge of the subject reaches far deeper than mine, that he's impressed enough with Matt's work to offer to produce the album speaks volumes to me.

I declared an interest up front, I've been lucky enough to see Matt Tighe grow from cocky teenager into one of the best young musicians I know, my two closest points of reference are Luke Jackson and Sam Sweeney, who Matt is already being very favourably compared with, and like both Luke and Sam is talented way beyond his years.

There is a brightness to Matt's fiddle one that lifts and soars, one that feels vibrant and affirming, even on slower tracks, that can, in other hands, take on more of an element of a dirge. I've played this album back to back and there's not many albums let alone instrumental ones that deliver to me on a second close run, this does.

The sheer mastery of the horsehair bow, is praiseworthy enough, but Matt did the writing and arranging, ensuring that there is truly something new for lovers of the tradition to latch onto as well as people that are new to music of this style.

"Matt Tighe" is a genuinely fresh album, it's one that I'd like you to get to know as well as I do, it's well worth the explore. I may be biased, it wouldn't be the first time, don't check out this album because I recommend it. Check out this album for yourself, because it's brilliant and well worthy of your time.

Neil King