Album Review - Michael Mc Cague / The Waylaid Man

Sophisticated arrangements with a strong percussive undercurrent feature strongly on The Waylaid Man, as you would expect from a musician that has brought his guitar and bouzouki talents to bands like Téada, At The Racket and At First Light. On this, his first solo album Michael Mc Cague presents over 30 of his own compositions. Superior musicianship is effectively a given these days when it comes to traditional albums and Michael has surrounded himself with some of the best. The varied and expressive fiddling styles of Dónal Mc Cague, Oisín MacDiarmada and Nollaig Casey dominate throughout.  Brian McGrath and John McSherry need no introduction and likewise bring some additional power and energy when required.  Darragh Murphy on pipes and Ryan O’ Donnell on banjo also feature.

Tracks like Other Times, Other Places which is included below are a great example of some of the varied tracks that are included. The delicate approach taken on another outstanding tune called The Shadow Jig is simply beautiful. All of this new music sits very comfortably even after just one listen. Michael’s guitar and bouzouki are sufficiently prominent throughout commanding enough attention without ever overly imposing.  He gives himself room to structure his own view of the music and this is quite an interesting aspect of the album.  You know that it’s a bit more textured and softer at the edges and you realise the guitar/bouzouki player has been given that little bit extra space.  As a result he brings some nuanced and reflective intros and interludes into the tracks giving the album a more modern traditional slant in the process. It’s a remarkably coherent and enjoyable album that would make a great live show. Considering that it is an album of entirely new material, makes it all the more remarkable. Incredibly developed music making.

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