Folk

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Clyde’s Wa­ter Fiona Ross with Tony McManus Tra­di­tion Bear­ers Singer Fiona Ross’s clear-as-a-moun­tain-stream enun­ci­a­tion and acous­tic gui­tar mae­stro Tony McManus’s crisp fin­ger­picked lines blend like vin­tage scotch whisky on their de­but col­lab­o­ra­tion. The ex­pat Scots, who call Aus­tralia and Canada home re­spec­tively, put their spin on tra­di­tional Cale­do­nian folk in con­sum­mate fash­ion, aided by ju­di­cious con­tri­bu­tions from com­pa­triot John Mc­Cusker’s fid­dling, in a well-en­gi­neered and pro­duced Shane O’Mara record­ing out of Mel­bourne. Launched at Vic­to­ria’s Na­tional Celtic Fes­ti­val in June, Clyde’s Wa­ter show­cases the rich­ness and di­ver­sity of the Scots’ song and bal­lad canon. Swathed in warm Scot­tish brogue and im­mac­u­late phras­ing, the qual­ity of Ross’s singing is ex­em­pli­fied by the set’s sole un­ac­com­pa­nied track, The Sea­sons. McManus’s in­tri­cate and in­no­va­tive gui­tar play­ing, de­scribed by cham­pion Aussie string-ben­der Tommy Em­manuel as “beyond beau­ti­ful”, is characteristically im­pec­ca­ble — in­spired in the duo’s clos­ing ren­di­tion of My Ain Kind Dearie O, a poem re­worked by its creator, the im­mor­tal Robert Burns, to pro­duce a mov­ing love song in which melan­choly and joy are in­ter­twined. Sev­eral tunes will be fa­mil­iar to non-Scots. The melody that ac­com­pa­nies Glaswe­gian “weelkent” love song The Bleacher Lass o Kelv­in­haugh, for ex­am­ple, will be more read­ily as­so­ci­ated with Moreton Bay by afi­ciona­dos of Aus­tralian bush bal­ladry.

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