| Review - Tune for
Stirrings Magazine, Issue No 121
In which the fiesty
Geordy fiddle-fondler takes a holiday from the music of the North-East of
England and turns his talents towards Ireland and America. Not only that, but
he steps out from behind the fiddle bow and reveals himself as a very tasty
singer. In fact he could have called this album Another Side of Tom
McConville if Bob Dylan hadn't beaten him to the punch forty or so years
Listeners familiar with Tom's high energy work with piper Pauline
Cato might also be suprised by the laid-back feel of this CD. The cover depicts
the sun setting mistily behind a row of fiddles, and its that mellow,
end-of-season vibe that predominates. Even when Tom kicks his slippers off on a
few tune sets, the unhurried accompaniments by Frank Kilkelly maintain the
sense of sleepy intimacy.
The CD opens with Tom's titular composition,
a lyrical Texan-style waltz dedicated to the late Mick Johnson, who died
tragically in a motoring accident a couple of years back. 'One of the world's
greatest violin makers' Tom avers, pointing out that all the fiddles played on
the album are of Mick's manufacture. Its warm langour sets the tone for the
rest of the programme. There follows the old Clancy Brothers staple The Holy
Ground, played at half the speed and with twice the feeling. No 'fine girl
y'are' shenanigans here...
And so it goes.
Tom saunters through a selection of trad songs and compositions by Steve
Tilston, Tim O'Brien and Bill Staines. The gently swinging Rocky Road and
Roseville Fair (Tilston and Staines respectively) are the nearest we get to
up-tempo. There's a brief crackle of Celtic wildfire on the Boys of the Lough /
Andy McGann's reel set - thrill to the blistering triplets on Boys... - but the
album ends pretty much as it began, with the wistful air The Dear Irish Boy.
(Tom's North-Eastern roots are briefly visible on the self composed jig set
Peter Tickell / Counsellor Cato).
As I've said elsewhere, there's more
to traditional music - particularly of the Celtic sort - than hell-for-leather
tempos. Tune for Michael proves the point; the speedometer barely
flickers, but it's as nice a ride as you could ask for.