Manus McGuire: The Copperplate Sessions review – a fiddler with a golden touch

The Copperplate Sessions
    
Artist: Manus McGuire
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent Release

Sligo-born, but longtime Clare resident, Manus McGuire has corralled a beautifully eclectic mix of tunes (and a pair of surprise songs) in this, his third solo album, bridging a wide gap left by his last fine collection of 2006.

Tracing his fiddle journeys from home to Scotland and across the Atlantic to Canada, McGuire's curatorial touches are subtle and intriguing in equal measure. From his choice of tune couplings (pairing four Sligo tunes in the opening Irish Reel Set with Micko Russell's version of Mason's Apron) to that trademark fluid and lonesome bowing style that he shares with his brother Séamus, there are rich seams to be mined by the listener at every bow's turn.

Guest vocalist Emily Flack contributes two songs, but it's the flinty piano accompaniment of both Tom Orr and Trevor Hunter (both Scottish) throughout, and Flack's delirious foot percussion on the final magnificent tribute set, Stephen's Dream, that linger long after the tunes have been put to bed.

McGuire manages to capture the energy of a live session while never sacrificing the finesse of the playing: a rare feat but one he achieves with seeming effortlessness.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

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