George Jackson & Davydd McDonald: Succession
By Bing Turkby
A 10-track CD of Celtic-style guitar and fiddle tunes predominantly written by George Jackson, this release is sometimes jaunty and sometimes mournful. For example, Song of the Tuis' haunting violin harmonics precede Trading Set, a trio of traditional tunes performed with great gusto, featuring the percussive sound of McDonald's Irish dancing. Throughout the album Jackson's skilful fiddle (and banjo) playing meld well with McDonald's interesting guitar rhythms and chords.The addition of flute player Beth McCracken to the mix on some tunes really lifts the overall effect. This reminded me a little of the JSD Band. I'd really like to hear what they sound like with a backing band, a la Sharon Shannon. Still, the duo have managed to create a contemporary sounding album that maintains a traditional feel - no easy feat. It's very difficult to pen a Celtic tune that doesn't either sound like a rip-off, or fall so far outside the idiom as to lose the feel, but these guys have achieved it, and put some modern spins on traditional tunes while they're at it.