Kaitlin Hahn,
Nice to Meet You
(self-produced, 2004)

One of the great pleasures of the Celtic Colours festival is meeting the native Cape Breton residents, friendly people to a fault who annually open their arms to throngs of visiting music lovers. Another pleasure is the people you meet from away, non-Capers who, like you, have traveled far to experience one of the world's finest music events.

One of the folks "from away" I met this year was Kaitlin Hahn, a charming young fiddler from Milwaukee, Wis. A first-timer at the festival, she was a return visitor to Cape Breton; she had studied with extraordinary local fiddler Kimberley Fraser at the Gaelic College, which is in itself a ringing endorsement of Kaitlin's own talents.

Her debut CD, Nice to Meet You, is a testament to Kaitlin's developing skill as a Celtic-Canadian fiddler. Already an excellent performer, she shows promise to become even better.

The CD is something of a musical resume, shining a bright light on Kaitlin's abilities but resisting the urge to go much further. For all its musical excellence, the CD lacks a touch of polish, the extra spark that would show just how far she can go. Despite fine musical backing by several musicians (including Fraser, who plays piano on five tracks), the disc doesn't explore any unique or terribly exciting arrangements of the tunes.

Still, there is something refreshing about the stripped-down sound, an unpretentious approach to traditional tunes that doesn't require a glossy studio production team or a jumble of high-tech electronics. This album isn't about Kaitlin proving how creative she can be, it's demonstrating how well she can play. And it succeeds.

On the creative side, Kaitlin includes several clever tunes of her own composition.

It's easy enough to follow the careers of established performers, those who have already achieved the spotlight. Sometimes, it's more fun to discover those who are just setting out on a musical journey; with Nice to Meet You as an introduction, I can predict a bright future for Kaitlin Hahn.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 20 November 2004

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