Sandy MacIntyre,
Steeped in Tradition
(self-produced, 1997)

I was stunned, to say the least. Sandy MacIntyre is a landmark of Cape Breton fiddling. I've seen him perform several times at Celtic Colours and he's always impressed me with his finesse. The man is a great performer.

So I expected his CD Steeped in Tradition to be equally excellent. It does have its moments, but it has problems, too. For the most part, it sounds like MacIntyre rushed his way through the recording and didn't bother going back to polish his work.

There's a rave review by music journalist Henry McGuirk enclosed with the liner notes, so if you want to hear high praise for this album, you'll have to buy it and read it there. But not here, unfortunately; as much as I respect MacIntyre and his talents, this album is a shoddy example of his abilities. There are moments of brilliance on this album, but they're only moments. There are also moments where it's hard not to grit my teeth while listening -- certainly there are far better recordings to showcase Cape Breton music.

On the upside, the liner notes do include a very nice essay by MacIntyre on Cape Breton fiddle techniques. It's brief but thorough, and helpful to anyone starting out in that style.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 5 January 2002