"This project and album is the culmination of several years of writing and a lifetime of playing, a reflection of the beauty of the environment I live in and an expression of my passion and love for that beauty." In terms of evoking the landscape in which he lives, and the people who surround him in that landscape, renowned mandolin and banjo player Damian Helliwell's eagerly anticipated debut album is a journey which, while it may be centred on one place, is never parochial, blending Slovak influences, Motown piano riffs and the mandolin into something unique and really rather special.

Timed to coincide with the 17th anniversary of the Isle of Eigg buy-out on June 12, Metta, which was recorded in Helliwell's self-built straw bale house and studio on the island, is a challenging and welcome arrival on the traditional music scene. Surrounding himself with some of the Highlands' most accomplished and sensitive musicians (Eilidh Shaw on fiddle, Donald Hay on percussion, Andy Thorburn on piano and Jen Hill on double bass) this is an exploration of people and place that seldom fails to hit the mark.

Jonathan Jobson

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