Kathy Barwick 'Braeburn' - FGM Records

This is12 tracks of pure guitar magic. Kathy Barwick is one of the flatpicking world’s best kept secrets, but her regular visits to this side of the pond are sorting that one out. I first met her at a guitar masterclass in Perfect Pitch in Dublin when she did the impossible and taught my addled brain the secrets of cross-picking. Equally at home on guitar, dobro or banjo, Barwick gives all of them fair exposure on this must-listen-to album.

Each track features at least one of her multi-talented friends, so they are all little stand alone classics in their own right. Two of her own compositions The Cantara Loop and the title track Braeburn sit very comfortably with traditional, folk and bluegrass favourites. There is plenty here to suit pickers and non-pickers alike, with a couple of fine vocal tracks thrown in for good measure.

Kathy is a fine guitar player and the first few notes of the opening track Caribou leave you in no doubt that this album is a keeper, understated and easy on the ear andoozing with sweet melody. The waltzes and the twin Sally Gardens / Willow Gardens are two wonderful resonator tracks while the Sweet Sunny South, The Cantara Loop (with excellent mandolin assistance from John Reischman) and Braeburn showcase Kathy’s versatile banjo styles.

Fans of Kathy’s band Nine 8ths Irish won’t be disappointed either, with plenty of Celtic covers here to delight. Finally Angelina Baker adds yet another version of this Bluegrass classic. I’ll add this album to my Kathy Barwick archive, knowing that it will enhance my appreciation of her first solo CD, the Nine 8ths Irish CDs and my particular treasure, the long out of print All Girl Boys bluegrass album.

I highly recommend this album and also suggest you see her live in concert as she is an ever so humble, yet ever so talented musician’s musician.