Alex Monaghan


A very entertaining debut release of Irish, Manx and Scottish traditional material mixed in roughly two to one with new compositions by Boston fiddler Davidson-Blythe, The Coast Road is a breathtaking tour with much to recommend it. Some sections are taken at tempos in excess of R, Douglas Adams' useful measure of the maximum advisable speed in any situation, but everyone reaches journey's end unharmed and it certainly gets the adrenaline pumping! The fiddle is supported throughout by bouzouki and guitar from Daniel Quayle (not that Daniel Quayle), who is probably responsible for much of the Manx influence here: it's great to see Manx music front and centre, and the pioneering work of Tomàs Callister is acknowledged by his guest appearance on a couple of tracks as well as the inclusion of his fine grinding reel The Answerer. The world of three-legged tailless music is also repesented by David Kilgallon whose string arrangements on the air For Ewen are a bittersweet delight.

With just two slower tracks, Elizabeth and Daniel provide a whirlwind experience of jigs and reels, reels and jigs, and occasionally both at once. Speed merchant Ciarán Ryan joins them on tenor banjo for a romp through tunes by David Doocey and Martin Wynne. Quayle switches to piano for a trio of traditional Manx and Irish jigs or slides. The quality of Davidson-Blythe's compositions is such that her reels Córdoba and Kaighin's effectively eclipse Vincent Broderick's Ring Around the Moon - although he redeems himself with The Milky Way following Cairistìona Dougherty's evocative Drunken Shrew. There's Eroticon VI (named for the planet, not the event) by Adam Sutherland in a reasonable key, The Sunny Hills of Beara by the late John Dwyer, and a rhythm-shifting Estonian piece for variety. The Coast Road ends with the challenging Contradiction and Shona Newey's funky B Real. This duo packs a lot of music into forty minutes, and when you've caught your breath you'll probably want to hear it all again.