Compared to other instruments there has been a shortage of banjo albums in the last year or so. While accordions, flutes and fiddles dominate the Tradconnect review archives we have, to date only reviewed three banjo albums.  Check the latest releases on the main retail sites and again not a lot apart from one or two notable exceptions. What we may not have in quantity we have definitely made up for in quality with this new album from Stevie Dunne.  He sets a very high standard for anyone releasing a banjo album this year.  

There is an unrelenting consistency to Stevie's fluid style and he never lets up from start to finish.  With beautiful variations and ever flowing triplets that add rich texture to the recording he seems truly connected with his banjo.  Tune and key changes likewise flow seamlessly including a hornpipe and reel set called The Drunken Sailor leading into Dwyer's and Ril an Spideal.  Glorious music indeed. Stevie adds some additional emotion into proceedings with some beautifully paced sets like Maple Leaf / The Silver / Finian's Arrival where the accompaniment on guitar and bass is simply outstanding.  He adds some modern flourishes and runs on the fretboard that lift the set off the page.  The outro to this set with guitar, bass and bouzouki add another dimension to the music. With a mixture of self compositions and standards, this is without doubt an outstanding album of banjo music. The stellar team of musicians that join Stevie add significantly to the feel and quality of the album.  They include Stephen Hayden, David Munnelly,  Arty McGlynn,  Michael McCague,  Tracy Ryan on vocals,  Sean Og Graham, Eamon Murray and Ryan O'Donnell on bouzouki & Guitar.

As an exponent of the art of banjo playing you will therefore not find better.  Stevie Dunne cements his place in the annals of great banjo players that this country has produced.  It is hard to fault the music and even harder still not to get carried along with his rhythm, style and delivery.  The musicians he has surrounded himself with provide just enough variation to make the tracks interesting without ever crowding him out. When it comes to picking an Album of the Year this time next year, this will most definitely be in the running. 

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Comment by Alan Jones on February 18, 2013 at 10:53

I have just bought the mp3 download from amazon and can certainly recommend it. A really lively fun album that everyone will enjoy and a must for all Irish Tenor Banjo players, 


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