Album Review - Shane McAleer / Long Time No See

Shane McAleer returns to the limelight with an outstanding new album called Long Time No See.  It’s a mellowed out affair with some outstanding music played to the backdrop of Eamon Mc Elholm on guitars, keyboard and cello, Eamon Murray on Bodhrán and Ryan O' Donnell on Bouzouki. His playing is stripped back to the essentials, making it a real fiddle players’ album.  He shows that you can approach even some of the simpler old standards like Scatter The Mud or the barndance If there weren't any women in the world and find something new in them once again. Many will know Shane from his earlier days with Dervish where he fired up their first few albums with a wonderful style that underpinned their early growth and development as a group.  Well, he has slowed it down quite a bit for this outing as not having to conform to group requirements allows him to set his own pace. That pace is perfect for a solo fiddle album because nothing seems too rushed and all the ornamentation and phrasing are as clear as the Sligo spring water where Shane's fiddling first came to our attention all those many years ago.

Reels like McHugh's/Sean Frank's or a later set like The Camowen/The Boyne Hunt/ The Starry Plough are played out to some beautiful guitar work and come across like some of those classic fiddle albums from yesteryear. Sterling stuff.  The inclusion of a number of slower sets including the aforementioned barndances, two airs, a set of marches and some hornpipes contribute to what is a finely balanced recording.  It is the kind of album that any budding fiddle player would gravitate towards. It could fire up your own inspiration to know that there is a stripped back simplicity that can be applied to music.  Therein lies the secret and this album has it in abundance.  Great traditional fiddling that succeeds because ultimately talent shines through and over complicating the process with technical wizardry is not required.  Shane can do both but in this instance thankfully chooses the more classic fiddle sound.  This is a beautifully accomplished recording that harks back to some of the great fiddle albums of our time. Let’s hope there is more to come in the near future.  Long Time No See indeed, and a very worthy and rewarding re-entry to the trad scene.

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