R'n'R Magazine ★★★
In these cold winter months, with all their attendant metaphorical resonances, here's something guaranteed to warm the absolute chilliest of cockles. Fiddler and composer Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe grew up in Boston, Massachuetts, but there're old Scottish tunes flowing through her veins. Already an accomplished classical violinist, her passion for traditional tunes caught fire through joining almost-nightly sessions while studying in Edinburgh.
For this cracking debut release, she's joined by Manx multi-instrumentalist Daniel Quayle who provides the perfect foil on The Coast Road, a collection of traditional and contemporary tunes which draw on influences from Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. The arrangements manage to be both subtle and striking, with guitar, piano, bouzouki and more, selected to provide just the right canvas on which Davidson-Blythe can paint her vivid designs. It is, paradoxically, a fiddle album that isn't just about the fiddle.
A few guests step in to great effect, notably Ciarán Ryan, whose banjo on a couple of tracks is a particular joy. Bright and uplifting, The Coast Road's a tonic for the times, and when those wonderful gear changes kick in on 'Cherry Mountain', the closing set, it's a sad person indeed whose heart isn't lifted.