‘Harbour’ from Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald - tradition held in safe hands(August 31, 2017)
However you envisage it, ‘the tradition’ endures, it expands and contracts, rises and falls, it changes, morphs into hundreds of styles and yet continues. The art of ‘writing in the tradition’, despite protectionist warnings of dilution never remains static, it’s always moving forward ... with movement led by those happy to innovate yet respectful of the heritage they work with. Many preserve while moving forward, and in this case, it’s Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald with their album ‘Harbour’. The selection includes self-penned songs and tunes plus those from such luminaries as Kate Rusby and Kris Drever ... the tradition held surely in safe hands.
McKasson and McDonald are clearly exponents of tradition with the inventiveness to add their own brand of musical exploration to create their own sound. There’s a certain spontenaity at work as the two musicians alternately contest and duel, combine and coalesce to bring their talents together. From the opening of ‘Bay Of Biscay’ the interplay between them is obvious as is the edge McDonald’s voice brings to their songs, the mesmeric ‘The Cheese Closet Set’ gets toes tapping, while their version of Kate Rusby’s ‘Let the Cold Wind Blow’ sits perfectly with McDonald’s ‘The Cold Wind’. From there, they revel in tradition once again, with their take on the multi-versioned ‘Fair Annie’, before moving into their own ‘Theme for Scotland’ and Kris Drever’s ‘Mark The Hard Earth’.
There's an ongoing and burgeoning source of tradition-orientated musicians, which is something to applaud, with this album McKasson and McDonald set themselves among the best.
Review: Tim Carroll