"Your room is right in here, Maestro," says the Devil in a well known Gary Larson cartoon, as he ushers a renowned conductor to his new accommodation - which is populated entirely by banjo players. Those jaundiced toward that instrument would do well to listen to Incidents and Accidents, the second solo album from Dan Walsh. It's a stunning virtuoso collection.
Walsh is well known as a member of the Urban Folk Quartet and the duo Walsh and Pound, as well as for the stage and recording work with the Levellers and Seth Lakeman. This release sees him in more stripped down format accompanied by a few well chosen collaborators.
Although the decision to start playing banjo was inspired by a love of Scottish and Irish jigs and reels, Incidents and Accidents kicks off with music that was shaped across the pond. Time to Stay, is a blues where Walsh agonises whether to move back to his home town after six years away, whilst Lost Rambler is a twenty to the dozen bluegrass instrumental that leaves you wondering how many banjos he's playing.
Hermit of Gully Lake is more British folk influenced musically, although the subject matter isn't, Willard Kitchener MacDonald lived as a recluse in a hut by Gully Lake in Nova Scotia for nearly sixty years after jumping a troop train to avoid service in World War II. The always superb Patsy Reid guests on fiddle here. Three tracks in, and an impressive amount of musical ground covered already.
In gentler (and moving) mode, and with guitar rather than Banjo, The Song Always Stays relates to an experience playing a gig in a Surrey care home to Scottish singer Glen Mason that led to the latter rekindling his love of singing and performance in his later years. Whiplash Reel completes the around the world in just over half an album experience with a piece that owes much to a new found enthusiasm for Indian music.
Whilst anyone who hasn't got their ears just painted on will realise that Dan Walsh is an extraordinarily competent musician, he's none too shabby as a songwriter either with lyrics that stray outside the usual subject of love lost or the the traditional folk fayre of death and despair.
It's doubtful that he's done anything naughty enough to be consigned to the bowels of hell, but if he does at some point and occupies the living quarters mentioned at the start of this piece, then Satan's little joke will be set to backfire somewhat.
Incidents and Accidents is released on Rooksmere Records on 16th March 2015, is produced by Mark Hutchinson and features Patsy Reid (fiddle) Nic Zuppardi (mandolin) Meaghan Blanchard (vocals) and Mark Hutchinson (percussion). The launch gig is at the Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford on 17th March 2015