Donald Black, Bho m’ Chridhe (From My Heart). Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Arguably the biggest crime against art is not that committed by the sneering critic, by the one who feels it is their duty to act like a frustrated and embittered teacher, to admonish anyone who has the heart to play and create something beautiful and ever-lasting. It is not the critic who commits the crime, it is the performer when they don’t play with the passion injected into them with the skill they have been blessed with.

All you ever ask for as a listener at the gate is that someone will play with that heart, that stirring beast in which we all wish we could harness; sometimes it just doesn’t appear, quite often though we are allowed to see the enthusiasm, the fury and the love at first hand and in Donald Black’s Bho m’ Chridhe (From My Heart), the listener is seen as an extension of the art on offer.

It is the art of the harmonica that shines in the album, perhaps an instrument that does not get the recognition that it deserves outside of the delta Blues genre but one, when utilised with charm and guile, can leave the listener understanding why it can be so powerful a weapon of sincerity and cool, that it can act as a mouth driven sonar, bouncing back, adding a distinctive echo that captivates and encourages the potential in others to rise up and take notice.

The traditional songs tackled and won over are added to by the weight of acclaim rightly given by the addition of players such as Malcolm Jones, Charlie McCoy, Alec Dalglish, Allan Henderson, Donnie MacKenzie, Martainn Skene, Mario Collosimo, Andrew MacPherson and Addie Harper Jnr. In this huge combination across the 16 songs, the heart doesn’t just embrace, it finds a way to support and be respected for the pureness of the artist and his own beating machine in his body.

In the traditional tracks of Pipe Reels, Gaelic Memories, New Island Waltz, Slow Air and the marvellous Canadian Scottish (Two Step/Clog/Reels), Donald Black leaves more than his mark on the genre, he takes the harmonica and turns it into a series of softly delivered caresses that leave the listener exhilarated and wanting more.

Bho m’ Chridhe (From My Heart), is where life begins, the well played notes from even the smallest of instruments can still shake the foundations of a belief and have it adopt is stance to welcome the new addition.

Ian D. Hall