Personnel: Aly Bain (fiddle); Malcolm Stitt (guitar, bouzouki); Phil Cunningham (cittern, mandolin, whistle, accordion, piano, keyboards);
Colin MacFarlane, Stuart Nisbet (dobro).
Fiddler Aly Bain and producer/multi-instrumentalist Phil Cunningham (who spends most of his time on accordion) have gradually become elder statesmen of Celtic music, both of them frequent guests on younger musicians' albums and highly respected both as soloists and as former members of seminal groups (Bain is a member of the Boys of the Lough, while Cunningham was, with his brother John, one of the early members of Silly Wizard). On this duo album they play beautifully, as always, but fans of traditional Celtic music may find themselves a bit bemused by the predominance of slow (sometimes downright syrupy) tunes and the slick (sometimes downright antiseptic) production quality. Approach this album on its own terms, though, and its charms are significant: the three slow tracks that open the program are all genuinely lovely, with the nod going to a sweet and simple arrangement of "Golden Memories" (and a thumbs down to the slide guitar on "The Lake Charles Waltz"). The Cunningham composition "Tonder...The Eternal Friendship" is also exceptionally beautiful, as is Bain's "Sophie's Lullaby." And for those who want to dance, there are one or two energetic reel sets and one jig set. Recommended. ~ Rick Anderson