The Highland Rovers Band,
Knights at the Castle
(self-produced, 2001)

The first 10 songs of Knights at the Castle were recorded live at the Black Rock Castle in Bridgeport, Ct. The final six were recorded in a studio. So you get a real feeling for this energetic group in all of its guises. From listening to this first part, I'd have to say that they'd be great to see live -- a very energetic bar band who's ready to give you reason to party!

The Highland Rovers Band is Billy Donaldson (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass), Tom Portera (vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards), Jimmy Cyr (vocals, mandolin, percussion) and Jon Ciottone (drums, congas, bongos, djembe, percussion). The songs are also a mixture of traditional pieces and original compositions by the band.

The disc opens with an old favourite of mine, "Whiskey, You're the Devil." The energy levels are high, and crowd very welcoming as this foursome plunges into an a cappella beginning to this fast-paced piece. This song is always a lot of fun for the performers and the audience, and this group didn't drop the ball. The vocals are great, clear and understandable as their voices dance about one another in an enjoyable feat of harmonizing.

The first track plunges right into the second without missing a beat, as the group takes a bit of breather with "Wild Rover." This piece is also performed partially a cappella, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that this group has a magic where the vocals are concerned. "Wild Rover" is also a fun piece for the bar, and the patrons in the background were obviously enjoying it.

An original piece that really stood out for me was "Tomorrow Might Be Just Another Day." Like the rest of the original pieces, it was really enjoyable and showed great promise, but unlike the rest of the tracks on this disc, this track had a "pop" sound. The vocals are strong, and really grab your attention. The harmonizing is excellent and, while the Highland Rovers Band isn't the next N'Sync by any means, they leave a lasting good impression with this piece. It is one of those songs that you will find yourself moving to, whether you willed it or not.

There is a great deal of talent on this disc, and I'll be listening to it quite often. I'm thinking that there is a future for these four fun-loving men in the music world, and I hope you'll enjoy this disc as much as I have.

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 13 July 2002