Ian Bruce - Jigs, Jives & Jacobites - Living Tradition

This album features the IanIanIain Band with special guest Ian. Put another way, this is Ian Bruce on vocals, guitar and bodhran; Ian Lowthian on accordion and keyboards; Iain Fraser on fiddle and viola and special guest Ian Murray on percussion. It was recorded live in concert in Glasgow's Riverside Club (surprisingly not in Stront-ian or Dalsh-ian) at the tail end of last year and has that nice, slightly rough at the edges feel of a non-studio album.

Ian Bruce is one of those performers whose esteem has risen in recent years, helped greatly by his Hodden Grey album of traditional songs which re-established him as "a voice". Here he has chosen to reverse the trend by restricting himself to only two from the tradition: "Dark Lochnagar" (though I'm not sure about the change of tempo mid-song) and an exciting version of "Ye Jacobites By Name", which does work. There are two instrumental tracks featuring the compositions of Ian Lowthian but eight of the album's dozen tracks feature Ian's own songs.

There's no doubting that the man can write, but if I'm going to be critical - and that, dear reader, is one of the duties of a reviewer - I'd have to say that, for me, a couple of songs lean too much towards self-examination rather than that of the human condition in general. Still, everyone to their gout as the French say, nearly, and these are more than balanced by the overall quality of the others.

It sounds like a great night at the Riverside with both performers and audience enjoying themselves and while the playing personnel might be restricted to those of the same name, the album is for sale to be anyone.

Living Tradition
01 December 2001