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No Boundaries
Natalie MacMaster (fiddle) with Dave MacIsaac (guitar); Tracey Dares (piano); Brian Leonard (drums); others. 13 tracks; 55'17". Rounder CD 7023.
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Much more of a solo album than the others reviewed in this issue, No Boundaries is a fiddle tour-de-force by one of today's foremost young Cape Breton players. Alive and joyful, full of verve and energy, it shows better than most albums why dour people referred to the fiddle as the devil's instrument. Based in the Cape Breton tradition with excursions to Scotland, Texas (Beaumont Rag), and Quebec (Reel Beatrice & others). and points in between, these performances share a lot with the best of Eileen Ivers' energy and willingness to cross geographic as well as traditional boundaries. In some ways this CD isn't for the faint of heart, but the core of the fiddle playing is as traditional as it gets.

The piano (an instrument I prefer not to hear in traditional Irish music), is the natural accompanist for Cape Breton music and it adds a lot of get-up-and-go to the arrangements. It also gives a New England contra dance feel to some of the music--not that there is much on this album that fails to make me want to dance. Drums help kick many cuts with a style that moves between Scottish dance (after the chaperones, if any, have left) and rock. A beautiful arrangement of Silverwells, played by an ensemble of 12 strings, and the Lament for the Death of Rev. Archie Beaton, accompanied by simple piano part, both let you catch your breath.

If you want a traditional sound, stay away from this CD but otherwise it is a must have for anyone who likes hot fiddle music. Rating: A.

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