Renowned chef Jamie Oliver modestly quipped in his first cookery shows “It’s not me, it’s the food!”
Whilst there is an element of truth in what the Naked Chef said, we know that that is only part of the story.
So it is with this delightful album by Eilidh Shaw and Ross Martin recorded in the studio at the Gaelic College in Skye, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
They let the tunes speak for themselves with minimal tampering or effects resulting in a refreshingly honest recording of some well known tunes played up and down the land in sessions and clubs.
It can be a brave thing to do particularly on a CD where there is no place to hide, but then this pair have no fear having been part of an ever intensifying traditional music scene over the past 20 years or so. The skill with which they stroll through the tunes has been seasoned over countless gigs and sessions with some of the best and brightest musicians around.
Opening with a playful rendition of Aonghas Grant’s hornpipe The Westcoaster (is it me or is there a nod to the Wombles hidden in there?) before easing into a couple of well controlled Marches as the duo start to turn up the heat with Damo’s Reels, a couple of tunes written by the very talented Damian Helliwell.
Ross demonstrates his understated prowess on the guitar in a quite beguiling Mo Mhathair and jaunty Paddy’s Rickle Bridge and Eilidh’s deft fiddle skills are always on show.
Sandwiched between a Gaelic waltz that comprises two Elvis Presley numbers and a pared down cover of Bruce Springteen’s Dancing in the Dark (yes, that took me by surprise) is a set of excellent Pipe Reels that will get the blood pumping.
A standout track is Eilidh’s The Lines of Time, a quite beautiful song about an aging couple, which begs the question why is this the only self penned number on the album? Hopefully a follow up album will cure that omission.
We can hope that it won’t take another 15 years.