Damien McGeehan – The Tin Fiddle

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Damien McGeehan’s renown as one of Ireland’s best fiddlers is founded on the fine contribution he made to the now disbanded Donegal fiddle trio Fidil. To many, then, an entirely solo project may seem like a brave departure, but due to some nifty production techniques and an exquisite handling of his instrument, McGeehan’s The Tin Fiddle tricks the ear into presuming that many musicians are at the mike. Not so. It may be difficult to grasp the notion, but this album’s array of delicious sounds comes from a single Frankenstein’s monster of an instrument; a fiddle whose parts have been salvaged from a long-retired instrument and bashed into shape by a master tinsmith. Yes, every note, scratch, bash, pluck and tap on this collection of twelve tunes is the work of one man and one tin fiddle. There are moments of sprightly delight such as “The Gravel Walks To Grannie” and the familiar “The Four Posts of the Bed”, each with its fair share of elbow-shattering scrapes and nimble pizzicato, as well as moments of melodic elegance such as the sweetly evocative “Eleven Oaks” and the haunting “Paddy’s Rambles Through The Park”. The album ends with the brand new composition “The Waterfall” which is easily the most painterly of the pieces on the record, its abstract melodies coiling dramatically around ripples of strings and ambient, rain-like fiddle-body percussion to close what is, at once, an album of traditional simplicity and stout-hearted invention.