Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson
Much instrumental wizardry from Arisaig multi-instrumentalist Steve Brown, otherwise Broon, who I assume has gone under this moniker since his pre-teens, but I’m just guessing here. Having been involved in music since the early 1990s, it beggars belief that this is Steve’s debut solo album, having played in a variety of rock bands over the years. Not solo in the sense of a purely solo Mike Oldfield album, in that Steve invites onboard John Whyte on trombone, Pete Harbidge on cornet and Eoin de Paor on fiddle, whistle, flute and bass, but the rest of it is all his, as he picks up the mandolin, several guitars, the accordion, piano and bass, along with some customary programmed drum loops. Cosmic Ceilidh appears to be a suitable title for this album, which is made up of fifteen instrumentals, one or two of which are themed, notably Hope Parts I, II and III, or “Soar”, “Skye Cottage” and “Seeds Beneath the Snow”, each linked by a thematic guitar motif. The range is broad and we find everything from the sensitive classical guitar solo “A Timeless Love” to the full tilt “Arisaig Boogie”, a scrappy little number which apparently divides tastes. As a long time supporter of the Canadian band Rush, it must have been thrilling for Broon to have the late Neil Peart on three of the tracks, notably “The Devil Came Down to Glenuig”. A potpourri of styles and genres, Cosmic Ceilidh’s chief focus is on the expressive mandolin playing by someone who obviously loves the versatile junior member of the stringed instrument family. We’re advised to file the album under World Music, Celtic Fusion and Prog Croft, which makes perfect sense, though you might consider not filing it away at all, but instead have it close to your player for when the mood arises.