McKasson & McDonald – Harbour
Self-Released – 2017
Scottish fiddle style player Ryan McKasson and vocalist and guitarist Eric McDonald teamed up to release their first full-length album, Harbour. The narrative power of McDonald’s vocals joins the darker riffs of McKasson’s fiddle for an album with pluck, depth, and good reels aplenty.
Waterside harbours offer refuge to wayfarers, to those who may be arriving or departing, bidding farewell or remaining, a theme that runs through the lyrics of Harbour. The album opens with The Bay of Biscay, a ballad of longing that sets the stage for the waterfront theme of Harbour.
Flander’s Shore speaks of the heartbreaking departure of a swoon-worthy sailor and the fiddle, and Let the Cold Wind Blow is a heartfelt, sincere farewell. McDonald’s vocal artistry has a compelling clarity and authenticity. Jeremiah McLane joins the album on several tracks including Brook Leigh and a cover of Kris Drever‘s Mark the Hard Earth with a soulful accordion.
The jigs on Harbour are a delight, prone to sparking impromptu kitchen ceilidhs. Strathspeys and Reels begins with a steady beat that dissolves into the sort of reel that leaves you breathless after furious twirling. The Cheese Closet is a wistful, toe tapping number, and Three Jigs in One Flat sounds like a dramatic dance in a country hall. McKasson’s fiddle has a solo moment in Theme For Scotland before joining with a second fiddle in a masterful demonstration of tension and resolution.
McKasson and McDonald set out to “explore the dark corners floating on the edges of tradition,” which they achieve beautifully in Harbour. The melancholic and joyful tones in the album weave together–the upbeat Fair Annie ends on a surprising, but fitting minor note and the high drama of Three Jigs in One Flat contrasts with the warmth of McDonald’s guitar. My favourite track on the album, Geordie exemplifies this exploration, the synthesis between old music and new voices, dark tones and joyful reels.
Order it here: https://www.mckassonandmcdonald.com