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Review: ***** THE SCOTSMAN

16/02/15

FOLK

Ian Carmichael: Ten Years On

Splitrock Music

*****

This intriguing and engaging offering from Irish-based Scots banjo player Ian Carmichael makes a pretty convincing case for the five-string instrument’s capabilities in playing non-bluegrass or old-time repertoire. Carmichael, here supported by such established Irish musicians as guitarist Garry O’Briain, percussionist Tommy Hayes and bassist Paul O’Driscoll, has an open, unhurried style, as he demonstrates in the opening track, a nice Scots-Irish reel pairing.

Hearing a dobro whine behind a pipe march certainly made me sit up, but the only real mismatch between instrument and repertoire is in the popular pipe strathspey Devil in the Kitchen, which sounds pretty uncomfortable on the banjo, although things perk up considerably as Carmichael shifts into the pipe reel Lexy McAskill, which fairly sails along.

Elsewhere he picks bright cascades of notes in tunes such as Fiddle Cushion and Whiskey Before Breakfast, the latter reverting cheerfully to the banjo’s more customary American repertoire, as does the gentle chiming of Colored Aristocracy. Jim Gilchrist

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