Eight tracks of brand new music, and two traditional sets, from this Glasgow-centred band on their second album: there’s certainly no drop in quality or energy. Ímar turned heads and blew minds when they first burst onto the scene, boasting young guns from Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Every member of this quintet is a world class musician, and their combined list of awards would fill this review. If traditional music had poster boys…!
Powerful modern reels, catchy polkas, delicate airs, and of course the obligatory piece in 7/8: every tune here is a treat. I’m already playing Kilodonan Drive in sessions. Concertina, fiddle, pipes and flutes are backed by bouzouki, bodhrán and guitar, with a few guest spots on keys and strings. Arrangements are relatively straightforward, with plenty of variety and some great juxtapositions: the gear shift into the jig Garey Ford causes a smile of surprise, and the change from jig to reel for The Day is With Me is a real jaw-dropper.
Skyeman Peter Morrison’s reel Spiders and Manxman Peddyr Cubberley’s Garey Ford are the only cases where the composing credits don’t go to the Ímar melody trio of Murphy, Callister and Amini. Many pieces here are combined creations from all three, including the slide Dilly Dilly which I would have sworn was a traditional tune – but then how would you tell with slides? The penultimate track is another surprise, a version of the hymn tune Slane which originally springs from the Irish tradition, beautifully played as a series of solos, roping in Rhodes and Brown to do their bit. It’s back to reels for the finale, of course, and three traditional tunes from Ireland and Scotland, which may well have visited the Isle of Man en route. By the time Ímar reach the end of The Dunmore Lasses you’ll be gasping for breath, but after a few seconds you’ll want to hear it all again.