Tom MacDonald,
Celtic Tenor
(self-produced, 2002)

Tom MacDonald, a newcomer to the recording scene, turns his voice in this debut to classic Scottish and Irish ballads and a few original songs that I thought were quite special. MacDonald gives us a chance to rediscover old Irish and Scottish songs in a style that is robust and dramatic.

He opens the CD with "Flowers of Scotland," which is the strongest and richest track here. There's excellent piping in this version that adds great depth to the song. He does a remarkable job of "Dark Island," singing with great emotion and to the graceful accompaniment of piano. For an original piece he wrote the song "Eden's Glow," as a tribute to his wife, and I think it's one of the loveliest and best sung pieces on the CD.

There is a solid and cohesive sound throughout. Tom's voice never strays from a dedicated range, and it is a comfortable sound that isn't in the least dull because he explores songs of various tempos and themes.

I was really intrigued by the selection of songs. Songs of war, battle and treachery are not mainstream items, but he sings them and with them gives tribute to those who lived through that tradition. "Remembrance Day" is also a beautiful song, written for people in the military who guard our country and, as well, for the strong military tradition and sense of justice the Celtic people carry with them.

"The Ballad of Glencoe" is another popular song in Nova Scotia and MacDonald does it so well. He throws a lot into this with accompaniment of pipes and organ, resulting in a mournful and military number. He hits it bang on -- painting the story of winter treachery afresh in my mind.

Though MacDonald's voice was strong and easy to listen to I was left wondering what his true voice really is. He added an Irish brogue for one song, and I think his local dialect may have been at war with features of his tenor training at times. I feel he may have pushed himself too hard in some areas, and it shows a bit of weakenss in tone that I feel came from either striving too hardly for perfection or else singing with a surplus of emotion, and not a weakness in style.

I thought this was an interesting and compelling CD to listen to. Interspersed with the songs of battle are songs of love, and in the world of the Celts I couldn't tell you which, historically, they've had more fun at.. As a Celtic tenor, Tom MacDonald is the full package; he does what he loves and loves what he does, and I know several people who will love to have this CD when I pass it on for them to hear.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 10 October 2003

[ visit the artist's website ]