'The Queen's Lover' - Greg Russell and Ciaran Agar(July 18, 2012)
ur admiration and respect should go to Paul Adams at Fellside Recordings for yet another coup. Not only did he manage to promote and nurture a certain Spiers & Boden burgeoning recording career but it now looks like he might have hit bulls-eye again with young whippersnappers Russell & Algar.
Opening with the ever popular tale of ‘The Two Magicians’ with its shape-shifting (remember Disney’s Mad Madam Mim & Merlin in Sword In The Stone) miscreants the duo inject good humour and a swinging style that comes across in a rippling tsunami performance that I haven’t heard since the days of Fox & Luckley. From an instrumental point of view I hope that Ciaran’s dynamic fiddle showcase of established chestnuts including ‘The Clumsy Lover Set’ will inspire a new generation to engage with the ‘tradition’ and not totally rely on clever but ultimately anodyne self-compositions.
Having said that, its Russell’s well researched choice of contemporary songs including ‘Love Is Life’, ‘The Dancing’ and his own not inconsiderable title track that shows a maturity beyond his years. There’s plenty here to keep those of us of a certain age entertained (‘Ashokan Farewell’, ‘Icarus’ and ‘On Raglan Road’ etc.) with a knowing, affectionate smile whilst Greg and Ciaran have a certain instinctive edge that will engage a younger audience.
Not to harp on too much about ‘youth’ being on their side but if this intuitive, personable duo can maintain their up-beat attitude as much as they have displayed on this album it will perhaps come as no so surprise that our antiquated ‘scene’ is in safe hands. ‘The Queen’s Lover’ is out on Fellside Recordings FECD251
Reviewer: Pete Fyfe