Hugh Morrison,
Feet to the Floor
(Dun Eistein, 2003)

It's hard to believe Feet to the Floor is the work of one man. Oh, it may have been mastered and edited by diverse hands in a proper studio, but it's ultimately the conversation between Hugh Morrison and his accordion that fills up 47 minutes of this CD.

Those used to the accordion as an accent instrument or a simple polka maker will be amazed at the versatility it finds in the hands of a master, and even fans of the instrument will find some surprises. Morrison can make the notes jig through the "Thrums March" or waltz through "Leaving Stornaway" with as much grace as a harp. He can switch from the most relaxed tour of "The Sandy River Belle" to a mad run down "The Road to Lidsoovarna" in the space of a note, while the accordion hums warnings of curves in the path ahead. While only one instrument, the accordion here manages to carry several themes and a half-dozen moods at any one moment. Perhaps no other one instrument could summon such a chorus of merry voices for "Jane & Graham's Welcome to Tain" or give such a merry tone to the intense reel "Loch Torridon." The "Pride of Erin" waltz medley walks you into a crowd of merry fairgoers with light notes and measured steps along a winding road of melody. The jigs force you to dance whether you will or no; only a heavy belly of spirits will keep your feet still through "The Stacks o'Barley."

As varied as these tunes are, they're tied together by an attitude of unforced good cheer. Even in the most serious melodies, Morrison and the accordion both seem to be fighting off a case of laughter. Accordion is often used to create a dramatic, heavy atmosphere, but Morrison opens it up and sets it to soaring. This permeating good humor may make the album too monotonous for those who prefer a heavy dose of instrumental angst, but it also makes this the perfect companion for a bright summer afternoon. If you're willing to spend the better part of an hour with a smile on your face and your Feet to the Floor, you'll find no cause for regret in Hugh Morrison's work.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 21 February 2004

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