Freeland Barbour,
An Linne Dhubh
(The Black Water)

(Macmeanmna, 2004)

Freeland Barbour has tuned his accordion well. Acres and acres of fine Scottish tunes appear on this CD played by one of the best Highland accordion players in Scotland.

An Linne Dubhe (The Black Water) is an agreeable collection of some of the best tunes Scotland has to offer, and Barbour adds a few compositions of his own. Since he has designed his own accordion (the Pigini Alba) and operates a recording studio of fine repute, it's no surprise that this album has a clear crisp sound with extremely good arrangements.

The old standard "Fear a'Bhata" is certainly a favorite of mine. "The Piper's Polka" composed by Donald MacLeod livens things up and "Sine Bhan Fair Jean" sweetens the mood. He throws in an Irish jig, "The Dance Master," for good measure and then keeps us centered with his tribute to Robert MacDonald, an original member of Runrig, with "Robert MacDonald Valtos."

Listening to Barbour, you'll wonder why there aren't more Scottish-Celtic accordion players on this side of the Atlantic because there's a trove of wonderful tunes that Barbour shows are well-suited to the instrument. There wasn't one tune out of place that I could determine. None were tiresome or lax; a high standard of playing was incorporated throughout. Simple but elegant, only piano and accordion hold the spotlight.

The little tidbits of information about the tunes are always welcome in the liner notes, and this CD is an all-round good product that you'll listen to over and over -- if you've got a bit of the Celtic swing in you, anyway. I could go on and on describing each tune but you'd best listen for yourself.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 17 October 2004