Ryan Young’s Just A Second is his second album and much delayed (his debut came six years ago) because of a problem in his left hand which prevented him from playing. Having recovered, he reports that he had to learn to play all over again – a real blow. The nine tracks here combine eighteen tunes on which Ryan is accompanied by Craig Irving on guitar.
These days we expect solo fiddle albums to be all flying fingers but, perhaps inevitably, Ryan has taken a different approach. There is a melancholy about the music particularly the opening set, ‘Woo’ed An Married An A’/Fingal’s Cave’, during which you can almost see the notes floating out over the sea. The second set, ‘Willie Macrae’s Jig/The Monday Morning Jig’, is similarly restrained as if Ryan is leading us through his return to match fitness.
At last he lets fly with ‘The Bird’s Nest/’S Iomadh Rud A Chunnaic Mi’, not stupidly fast but full of energy and I come to realise that I like this style of playing and his choice of material. ‘Ben Lomond/Mrs MacGlashan’s Jig’ takes the pace down a little with Ryan’s fiddle soaring over the mountain. It’s all about the feel of the music as Craig lays down a solid foundation for him to work with. The pace picks up again with ‘The Fox/Flora MacDonald’s Reel/Little Donald In The Pigpen’, the longest set on the album and driven with a fearsome energy.
‘The Rock And Wee Pickle Tow’ is a waltz played not quite as a slow air but still very stately for dancing and that’s followed by two tunes from the Gows – son first and then the father. Ryan starts ‘Nathaniel Gow’s’ almost uncertainly but picks it up within half a bar, quite deliberately, I’m sure. ‘Bang Your Frog On The Sofa’ by Will Harmon leading into ‘Mrs MacGugan’s Rant’ and ‘Knit The Pocky’ deserves a mention if only for the title. The frog is the back part of the fiddle bow as I’ve learned today but even the Scots can’t agree on what a “pocky” is. Finally, Gordon Maclean’s ‘The Mortgage Burn’ is a reel played slowly with swooping notes.
I really do like Just A Second. Ryan seems to have learned a whole new playing technique and brought with that a new approach to some lovely old tunes. If you believe you don’t need another album of solo fiddle you could be wrong.
Artist’s website: www.ryanyoung.scot
Ryan Young live a Celtic Connections: