MacMaster's Celtic Music is Fit as a Fiddle

Natalie MacMaster - No Boundaries
(Rounder Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

With the recent popularity of Mel Gibson's 'Braveheart', 'Riverdance' and 'Lord of the Dance' the Celtic wave has hit stateside and the newest golden girl to represent the sound of the British Isles is 24-year-old Nova Scotia bred fiddler, Natalie MacMaster.
MacMaster was brought up on the Canadian isle of Cape Breton in a musical family rich in Scottish heritage. She began playing a small fiddle, given to her by her great uncle, at the age of nine. Musically influenced by her uncle and Cape Breton master fiddler, Buddy MacMaster, Natalie proved herself a virtuosity on the fiddle at a young age playing at local dances and concerts.
Now after garnering major musical awards and nominations, MacMaster has released her fourth album aptly titled No Boundaries.
With a foot still firmly planted in her Scottish roots, MacMaster manages to take this age-old traditional music into future with the use of drum programs, synthesizers, and electric rock guitar, without losing any of the historical essence of the music.
MacMaster brilliantly fiddles her way through lively reels, jigs, clogs and strathspeys throughout this jaunting collection of songs.
On songs such as "Bill Crawford's Set", "The Beaumont Rag" and the opening number "The Honeysuckle Set" it's almost impossible to keep some body appendage from moving in time with the lively step of the music. The faint strains of rock emanate from "Reel Beatrice" through a skittish beat and breathy organ and on "The Drunken Piper" MacMaster incorporates the use of a drum machine along with the spirited voice of Cookie Rankin.
The only drawback of the largely instrumental No Boundaries album is when the pace slows down on the soppy, "Fiddle and Bow", and the sleepy "Silverwells". These songs are saved somewhat, however, by MacMaster's warm, infectious playing style.
Celtic-country, Scottish-folk, modernized-roots-music, call it what you want, but the furious fiddle playing of MacMaster is sure to have your hands clapping, feet shuffling and kilt in embarrassing positions.

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