CD CHOICE: The Old Wheel of Fortune
No fiddles were hurt in the making of this album, although many were picked, plucked, strummed and bowed in manners most unlikely. Donegal trio Aidan O’Donnell, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Damien McGeehan are back with a vengeance and verve that many fiddlers would kill for.
Who knew that the fiddle could be such a throaty and percussive force, as it is on Fidil's cocky alternative take on The Rocky Road to Dublin?Or that it could handle the bass lines in The March of the Mín Na Toiteán Bullwith such a rich mix of earthiness and joie de vivre?
Fidil have grown up since their groundbreaking debut, 3, in 2009. Then, they didn’t spare on flair or panache, and they were no slouches in the technical department either. The mark of the two intervening years since their debut can be found in the pacing and thoughtfulness of the tune choices and pairings.
The title track hints at the trio's newfound affinity for plumbing the emotional depths of a tune without plunging into full-blown melodrama. Their choice of the Scottish air Herr Roloff's Farewellis redolent of the pensive playing of Sligo fiddler Seamus McGuire on his 1995 album, The Wishing Tree, and comes replete with the most delicate closing pizzicato, as if the trio are tiptoeing away from the tune, lest it spot them leaving and insist on another turn around the room.
Donegal's rich repertoire is writ large across Fidil's canvas, and the influence of the iconic Ardara fiddler John Doherty is palpable both in the tune choices and the unapologetic shape of their fiddle lines, particularly on the pair of hornpipes, The Low Leveland The Star. But it's Fidil's ability to trade pinprick-precise unison playing with careening, criss- crossing melody lines that knocks sparks off the floor on The Old Wheel of Fortune.
Fresh and inventive, Fidil realise their ambitions with a boldness that’d put a pep in the step of the most resistant listener. See fidilmusic.com
Download tracks: The Moving Clouds, Herr Roloff's Farewell