Matheu Watson’s Dunrobin Palace is his second album, filled with instrumental music which provides a rollercoaster of energy and atmosphere. Each individual track has its own pace and unique pattern but all reflect a strong and distinctive Celtic sound.
Matheu certainly lives up to the title of multi-instrumental composer, as each track features a variety of instruments with banjo, fiddle or guitar in the forefront supported by other string and woodwind instruments.
Matheu has already built a significant name for himself performing alongside a very large list of other well known artists including Cara Dillion and the Treacherous Orchestra, and he was also involved with Julie Fowlis’ mesmerising soundtrack for the Pixar film ’Brave’.
The album bursts into life with a slightly bluegrass sounding banjo track called Ceit and Eilidh’s, named after the daughters of the man who engineered Matheu’s first album. The second track, Louis, presents a more traditional Celtic feel but still at the same rollicking pace that the first tune set us up with. Candas Harbour also makes use of the banjo to give us an upbeat reel which is a testament to Matheu’s fond memory of a town in the north of Spain. The whistle background of this track really helps to paint an evocative image in our minds as to the fun he had on the trip and recording this particular song, as these elements are carried most effectively in the timbre of the music.
Aonghas slows down the album by changing both the pace and the main instrument to a slow, fiddle- based tune which is relaxing and gentle. This track merges into a reel known as Rod Alexander’s which revives the tempo and refills the energy of the audience and then switches from fiddle back to banjo half way through and really brings the beat of the music back to life all over again.
This traditional dance style features throughout the album occurring in Miss Hoy but this time using a fiddle as the lead instrument rather than the banjo, but still utilising whistles and woodwind to provide a sunny background. The track East West is particularly fast using both guitars and the fiddle to bounce through our ears and merges all of the sounds we experience in the album.
The Annie Jane changes the mood again to a slightly melancholy track which Matheu wrote after being inspired by a memorial to the passengers of a ship called the Annie Jane which sank after a severe storm. This track uses a banjo to slow pluck our heartstrings and is probably one of the slowest tracks to the album along with Maria’s Song which although is still slow and steady is not quite as gloomy as Annie Jane.
Hosta introduces a fresh and distinctive sound to the album and although it is a slow song the new style brightens the album and keeps the listener excited and interested to see the evolution of the musical style which twists and turns in the mind of the listener with every new song.
The penultimate tune, Stillingary House does not disappoint, as it gives us a charming Celtic session reminiscent of smoky nights in your favourite pub or around a campfire with friends, and listeners will struggle to resist the urge to tap their feet or even get up and dance along.
The album finishes with Dunrobin Palace, a tune which Matheu describes as being created spontaneously when playing his ukulele, and he felt it a fitting tune to have as his album title tune. This tune rounds off the album in impressive style, reflecting many of the musical themes and styles while retaining its own strength and unique identity, ending the album on an energetic high.
Matheu has created a very strong album with Dunrobin Palace, blending complementary strands of musical theme and instrumentation to achieve an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable experience for the listener, evoking warm memories of good times and foot-tapping times with friends.
Serve with a generous helping of time to yourself and a large glass of fine wine.Paul Rawcliffe
Released 19th November 2012 on Seer Records.
1. Ceit and Eilidh’s
4. Rod Alexander’s
5. Miss Hoy
6. The Annie Jane
7. Maria’s Song
8. East West
9. Candas Harbour
11. Stilligarry House
12. Dunrobin Place