Manus McGuire,
(Shelly River, 2006)

When I think of Manus McGuire, I immediately think of the fabulous Brock McGuire band -- the lively tunes and the wonderful blend of instruments and arrangements the group has to offer. I also think of the sweet sound and clarity of McGuire's fiddle playing, which shines on his album, Fiddlewings.

While McGuire is primarily known for his Sligo roots, he has studied many Celtic fiddle styles and worked with a variety of musicians. This is what catches my ear on this album. Fiddlewings includes some wonderful traditional Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and original tunes, as well as some guests, who really enhance the album: Gillian Boucher, Denis Carey, Marie Fielding, Owen Fielding, Duncan Findlay, Dennis Morrison, Seamus McGuire, Neil MacMillan and Garry O'Briain.

From his sweet, lilting waltzes, to lively reels, this album keeps me listening. I enjoy it as a whole, but I do have some favorite tracks. The second track, "Bodyke to Baddeck," is a lovely set of reels. The title of the track is a tune that McGuire wrote, himself, while visiting Baddeck, Cape Breton Island. It is a beautiful tune, and a really nice tribute to the town.

I also like the track, "Over the Moor Among the Heather." McGuire plays it with his fiddle tuned up, which gives it a sweeter, brighter sound, and Gillian Boucher joins him on fiddle, which promotes the liveliness of the strathspey and reel that follow the lovely air. The two fiddlers are so tight in their playing, it almost sounds as if it is just one loud, clear fiddle.

"The Halifax Hornpipe," is VERY interesting to my ear, because it sounds like the timing is changing, or like a beat is dropped and added back in later. It is a tune by Denis Carey, and it includes some foot percussion by Boucher, which is an ear-catcher from the very start of the track.

Lastly, I enjoy "Bebhinn's Waltz," written by Garry O'Briain for his daughter. I really like the guitar style by O'Briain on this tune. The track also includes Seamus McGuire on fiddle on viola. It's beautiful.

I am struck by how many slow tunes are on this album, because it isn't the norm for Celtic CDs. Even with that, it keeps my interest, because of McGuire's smooth style and precise articulation in his playing. Fiddlewings is delightful and I highly recommend giving it a listen.

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review by
Kaitlin Hahn

1 May 2010

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