Ian Hardie,
A Breath of Fresh Airs
(Greentrax, 2012)

How can a mere mortal and non-musician review perfection in an album of great music? That was my dilemma as I listened to this wonderful collection of tunes from Ian Hardie.

This is a reissue of the very first album release of that great label for Scottish music -- Greentrax -- and it was first aired back in 1986. Bearing that in mind it still has a fresh, modern feel, it is a tribute to the performer and the music choices he made.

Ian Hardie is a magnificent fiddler, while being proficient on a number of other instruments, and he gives full vent to that talent over the 10 tracks on offer here. Adding to the challenge, he chose relatively little-known tunes. This makes it all the more essential that the playing and the tunes are first-class if they are to attract the attention of the novice listener rather than the players constantly on the look out for tunes to include in their sets.

I am delighted to note that this CD wins both parties. I did not recognise a single air or tune, but I was mesmerised by them all. If I had to pick one outstanding track it would have to be "Old Bean Waltz" in its set with "Hospital Wood" and "Auchope Cairn."

The insert is small but informative on the origins of the tunes, with notes about tunes inspired by salmon pools, a view from Scotland to England and an old pub.

The icing on this musical cake is a bonus track from Isla St Clair with Hardie called "Glen Isla," written by the singer's mother coupled with a tune composed for the wedding of "Mr. Greentrax" himself, Ian Green, to Ruby, titled rather mundanely "Green Ruby Waltz."

This an album worth owning and it truly lives up to its witty title.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

2 June 2012

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