After a five-star review in the Irish Times, Danny Diamond’s first solo album, simply titled Fiddle Music, is being launched in Dublin this Thursday, 21st August, at the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield. With the likes of Tommie Potts and Seán Keane in the air, the album features 12 mostly solo sets of tunes, flavoured with Nordic and American playing style, and enriched with perfectly judged drone-based accompaniment.
A Dublin fiddler, Danny plays in a duo with nyckelharpa player Aki,in the experimental acoustic trio Slow Moving Clouds (with Aki and cellist Kevin Murphy), and with the band Mórga (with Jonas Fromseier on bouzouki and banjo, Dominic Keogh on bodhrán and flute, and David Munnelly on accordion). He has a strong musical family background, spent a lot of time in his youth playing music in Donegal learning from the likes of James Byrne and Danny Meehan, and has worked on field recordings with the Irish Traditional Music Archive for the past eight years.
His approach in this recording is patient and unassuming. While not just lazily offering the tunes as things of beauty in and of themselves, the presentation is quite minimalist compared to what we hear from him, say, in Mórga. Instead, the individuality and creativity, the particular style he has injected into the tunes that makes the album so accessible and appealing for anybody into fiddle music, is allowed to emerge without show, based on slight stretchings of notes, shifting emphases, unexpected chords, and lovely twists and turns of tempo. And while such details may be missed on a first casual listen, from the outset there’s a basic charm in the playing that is hard to miss.
Wanting to do something different in terms of backing instruments, the accompaniment on the album is based on drone effects produced on open-tuned fiddle (Danny himself), nyckelharpa (Aki), uilleann pipes (Ian Lynch) and accordion. Danny is also joined on three duet tracks by Dermy Diamond on fiddle, by Eoin Ó Beaglaoich on concertina, and by sean-nós dancer Anna Lethert. Five of the tunes are Danny’s own compositions, and again draw on Irish, Nordic and American folk music traditions for inspiration.
The beautifully subtle and layered artwork for the album (echoing Danny’s own sense of the music, perhaps), which will be exhibited at the launch in the Cobblestone, is by fiddler and artist, Susan Hughes, whom Danny commissioned with the suggestion she use fiddle strings as a starting point: “the most ephemeral and disposable part of the instrument, yet they make the music by vibrating and give the whole instrument life…”
Recording was done in the Irish Traditional Music Archive studio, Dublin, using two ribbon microphones in a stereo configuration to maximise the warmth and body of the fiddle sound. Editing and post-processing were kept to a minimum. Dannyʼs main instruments are two fiddles made by Dublin-based luthier Youenn Bothorel, and bows by Gary Leahy & Garner Wilson.
- The Green Fields of America / My Love Is in America
- The Humours of Ayle House / The Tailor Smallʼs
- The Few Bob / The Humours of Ballyconnell
- The Mountain Streams / Jennyʼs Welcome to Charlie
- Danny Diamondʼs Jigs
- The Log Cabin / Seán sa Cheo / The Eel in the Sink
- Rodneyʼs Glory / Napoleon Crossing the Alps
- Danny Meehanʼs / Con McGinleyʼs
- Cal Callaghanʼs Hornpipes
- The Salamanca / The Maid in the Cherry Tree / The Mistress of the House
- Leslie Bingham
- The Old Cowhill / The Roving Bachelor