Simon Thoumire
& David Milligan,
The Big Day In
(Foot Stompin', 2001)

There's something very understated about htis CD, from the subdued and simply designed liner notes to the concept of 14 tracks (well, 13 tracks plus a 9-second bonus called "1234") performed entirely on concertina and piano. In many instances of artistic understatement, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and The Big Day In is no exception.

Simon Thoumire plays concertina and David Milligan piano on this collection of traditional and original tunes. Starting off with "The Tipsy Sailor," Thoumire and Milligan grab your attention right away, the tunes in each set blending beautifully. Thoumire's concertina sounds each note clearly and Milligan is not restricted to merely providing percussive support. The piano has a cool, lively sound of its own and highlights the tracks.

Sometimes the piano takes the lead as in "Joseph's Jig," one of Milligan's compositions named for his young nephew. The concertina enters quietly, then picks up the melody in this rippling lilting tune that fairly giggles with delight. Other tracks are quieter and more serene, such as "Love Comes Quietly/Forsaken," an original set by Thoumire. Here, the concertina takes on an organ-like quality. Thoumire and Milligan don't restrict themselves to Irish and Scottish music; one of the standout tracks is a set of two Basque tunes, "Hasiera/Artikutra."

Thoumire and Milligan employ a subtle musical palette; the album is cohesive without disintegrating into blandness. Rather, the music is like sunlight on water on a breezy day, at once shimmering and refreshing, and there's something for everyone on The Big Day In.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 6 April 2002