Albums 2013 | Robbie MacGowran ‘Basically’

A look at albums we have written about in 2013 – here’s Robbie MacGowran and his 2013 release ‘Basically’  taken from Irish Music Magazine.

robbie macgowran

Own Label 12 Tracks, 33 Minutes

With his last recording, Road Map of Ireland having been released by, the then Belfast based, Outlet Records in 1981, Robbie MacGowran has most definitely taken time to bring out his latest offering entitled Basically. An exponent of the whistle for over thirty years and citing the legendary Planxty, Noel Hill and The Bothy Band as influences, he has produced a recording of clarity and precision that encompasses tunes that are familiar to all traditional music lovers. With the guitarist Ruairí Kelly he takes his first step into The Cottage in the Grove reel that skips into McDonaghs and The Humours of Loughrea. What stands out immediately is his almost staccato style on the whistle where the rhythm and phrasing are prominent yet the tune still flows in a methodical pace. The pace is moderate throughout the album yet this enhances the definition of note and simulates an almost percussive whistle sound, none more so than in the Banish Misfortunes jig set where the closing tune Nora Crionna showcases the clear, sweet tone of the whistle in sprightly style. A long standing favourite of mine Toss the Feathers comes into its own in the second part and is preceded by another great choice in Lafferty’s .
With an array of reels, jigs, hornpipes and slip jigs on display what truly shines is MacGowran’s respect for each tune as it is played. Each note is carefully considered and delivered in a way that is savoured by the instrumentalist. Kelly’s guitar accompaniment displays sensitivity throughout and the focus remains on the tune itself. A great album of raw whistle playing that can be used as a learning tool or thoroughly enjoyed on its own merit.
Eileen McCabe