John Sheahan: Flirting Fiddles review - a freewheeling, scampish delight

The fiddle player’s first solo album at 80 shows the merits of taking your own sweet time

Flirting Fiddles
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Artist: John Sheahan
Genre: Traditional
Label: TY4TM

With equal parts grace and danger, John Sheahan has recorded his first solo album in his 80th year. It's a freewheeling, scampish delight.

Full of original compositions, they collectively trace an arc both geographical and spiritual, across the landscape of Sheahan’s picaresque life. The liner notes, the poetry excerpts (more of Sheahan’s inquiring mind at work) and the photographs meld seamlessly with the high-definition spectrum of musical styles: a reminder of the riches that come from a CD, never replicated online.

Sheahan's innate conviviality resonates throughout: from the iconic Marino Waltz to a farewell tune composed on his arrival at the breathtaking Norwegian city of Harstad, to the baroque delights of MV Celine and the Parisian nonchalance of Diminished Swing, this is a collection that offers a peek into a musical imagination of endless possibilities. His chosen collaborators are equally eclectic: from compadre in arms Colm Mac Con Iomaire, to jazz guitarist, Drazen Derek, piper, Mick O'Brien and saxophonist, Richie Buckley.

Flirting Fiddles’ lengthy gestation speaks volumes about the merits of taking his own sweet time in coming to this juncture in his musical career. A revelatory collection to be relished as a long player.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts