Kevin Bryan record reviews

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Our reviewer brings you his favourite choices from the latest releases.

Tony McManus,”Mysterious Boundaries” (Greentrax CDTRAX 376)- Tony McManus is widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic guitarists operating in Celtic music today,but “Mysterious Boundaries” finds the Scottish born musician venturing into the classical sphere for the first time,with predictably impressive results. Tony’s arrangements of works by the likes of Bach, Couperin and Monteverdi which were originally penned for instruments such as the violin and harpsichord are a joy to behold, and the eclectic virtuoso also turns in a fine rendition of Erik Satie’s haunting “Gnossienne No.1.”

Emily Maguire,”Bird Inside a Cage”(Shaktu SHK2104)-It’s a sad reflection on the weirdly skewed state of the British music scene that the recording of the fourth album from gifted singer-songwriter Emily Maguire was only made possible through the generosity of her devoted fans,who were only too happy to dip into their pockets to fund her latest independently released long-player. “Bird Inside A Cage” represents a tuneful showcase for the talents of an artist who cites interests as diverse as Bob Marley,Bach and Buddha,with “Beautiful” and the passion drenched title tune emerging as the cream of the crop.

Guy Clark,”My Favorite Picture of You” (Dualtone Records)- Texas born Clark helped to define the “outlaw country” movement with the release of his classic debut album “Old No.1” in 1975,and this distinctive writer and performer is still going strong almost four decades later. His splendid new album serves up the familiar blend of wry social commentary and sublime character sketches which has become the acoustic balladeer’s musical trademark over the years, and newcomers to this laconic character’s unique brand of music-making would be well advised to lend a a receptive ear to fine tracks such as “The Death of Sis Draper,” “El Coyote” and Guy’s touching tribute to his late wife Susanna,”My Favorite Picture of You.”

Sir Colin Davis, “The Philips Years” (Decca 478 560 1)- This weighty 15 CD set was initially conceived as an 85th birthday tribute to the musical legacy of the great British conductor,but Sir Colin’s death earlier this year means that it’s now taken on the status of a memorial instead. The exemplary musical content features many of the fine orchestras and soloists that Davis worked with during his lengthy sojourn with Philips Classics,including landmark recordings of works by Mozart, Berlioz ,Sibelius and Sir Michael Tippett to name but a few.

Oli Brown,”Songs From The Road” (Ruf 1193)- This impressive CD/DVD package from the good people at Ruf Records captures youthful bluesman Oli Brown’s triumphant gig at Norwich’s Waterfront in December 2012. The gritty singer and guitarist regaled his hometown audience with the musical highlights from his three criticially acclaimed studio albums to date, injecting some commendable power and passion into prime cuts such as “Mr.Wilson,” “ Stone Cold” and “Speechless.”