Toe-tapping belters among highlights on excellent debut CD by Jenny’s burgeoning mandolin band

Always on a Monday by The Shetland Mandolin Band at £12.99. Available from High Level Music and The Shetland Mandolin Band website (see advert in the 22nd December edition of The Shetland Times for details).

It seemed appropriate to first listen to Shetland Mandolin Band’s debut recording on a Monday.

The album’s title is Always on a Monday and a blast of the tunes helped keep the “Monday blues” away.

In the two years since the band formed, to get mandolin players together for a tune, those involved have celebrated several red-letter days.

There have been two memorable folk festival concerts and the big gig last month at Mareel where much of the recording for the album took place. But despite the well-received concerts surely releasing an album, complete with superb artwork, caps those achievements.

Shetland Mandolin Band (SMB) meets fortnightly “always on a Monday”, hence the title, and is open to all ages and abilities. On the basis of the new release there are plenty of talented players in the ranks.

Opening with a flourish with one of the live recorded tracks, The Northlands sets the tone for the rest of the album. With its neat arrangement and the bass playing of substitute strings man

Norman “Girsie” Goudie driving the tempo the traditional tune draws the listener in.

One of the impressive things about the CD is the range of music crammed in, there is everything from bluegrass and country, traditional tunes, tango and a classical rendition.

The Bach Minuet in G sees the band throw off the shackles of “trad”. Everybody knows the melody and it’s pleasing to hear it played differently, with Trevor Jamieson’s cello playing adding depth.

Added to the mix are a smattering of tunes written by band founder Jenny Henry.

She has won awards for her tunes and three of her compositions are given the SMB treatment. Frankie’s Tune is a toe-tapping belter that segues nicely into John Sheahan’s Foxrock Hornpipe.

Her Boilersuit Blues/Soup Pot Blues is the best on the album to this reviewer’s ear, though the waltz Asta in Snow which leads in to the more up-tempo Coridinio pushes it close.

In a nice touch, Always on a Monday signs off with Manos Hadjidakis’ Never on a Sunday.

Truth told, whatever day it is, the album is a credit to all those involved.

There’s such a variety of music squeezed on to the CD – 18 tracks from 11 countries, including Shetland as a “country” – you’d be hard-pressed to not find a few tunes that resonate.

It’s a lightsome recording that will no doubt be cranked up and played until it wears out in many homes across the isles.



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