Tuned Up


Own label – no number; 47 min; 2008


To quote Frank Carson, ‘It’s a cracker’ – the only phrase applicable to the finest fiddle-flute album to emerge from Ireland since Molloy, Peoples, Brady. Just as Paul Brady’s guitar seemed to drive Matt and Tommy onwards towards musical nirvana, the sheer dexterity of Belfast’s Paul McSherry (whether picking, plucking or strumming) provides not only an ever-tasteful backdrop to the musical intertwining of the two Brendans, but a marvellous lesson for any aspiring accompanists.


Brendan the fiddler hails from Glenavy in Co. Antrim (once home to the singer Robert Cinnamond) while Brendan the fluter is a native of Bellaghy in the south of Co. Derry (a town whose environs feature strongly in the work of its most famous son, Seamus Heaney). Together they form a fabulous musical conjugation, whose combined pure sound – best heard on the set of jigs kick-started by Tatter Jack Walsh – is guaranteed to send shivers up your spine, and, contrarily, suggest the warmth of an inglenook.


There’s much fun to be heard here too. It’s impossible to listen to High Road to Linton/The Humours of Newcastle without wanting to laugh at your enemies while also realising that twirling your partner around the kitchen might still be a possibility (if not, whistle the tunes while you take the dog for a walk).


Finally, the sheer lyricism of Mug of Brown Ale/Scatter the Mud/Cúl Aod Jig reveals musicians in such perfect congruence that it’s a huge disappointment to discover that the CD lacks a further 30 minutes or more of hidden tracks.


This is an album so damned good that its essence should be bottled and force-fed to all Irish infants.



Reviewed by Geoff Wallis for fRoots magazine –


The album is distributed by Copperplate –



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