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World Music CD Reviews Europe

JOHN MCCUSKER

By ALLISON M. BROCK
Published April 19, 2006

Goodnight Ginger
Compass

John McCusker could be mistaken for a head-banging punk rocker, sporting a Mohawk on the cover of Goodnight Ginger, his third album. In reality he’s an amazing Scottish fiddler at home on numerous instruments. He originally made a name as a fiddling whiz kid in the Battlefield Band, and this recording is proof he manages well on his own.  It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this sensation stand out more: soulful fiddle playing or his first-rate compositions. Many of his own tunes are featured, fitting naturally alongside traditional tunes. He also has a knack for arrangement, making the perfect fit with various instrumentation. The usual suspects help out—Phil Cunningham, Michael McGoldrick, Ian Carr, John Doyle, and others—coming in on accordion, pipes, concertina, guitar, percussion and trumpet. “Wiseman’s” is a fine example of this harmonized perfection, featuring a satisfying blend of fiddle, flute, accordion, cittern, and percussion.  The only vocal song here, “The Bold Privateer,” is performed by girlfriend Kate Rubsy, her voice as immaculate as his playing precise. McCusker’s sound is simply incredible, easily making Goodnight Ginger the best of its kind this year.