Bob MacLean,
Dancing on a String
(self-produced, 1998)

Guitars are often relegated to the background, providing rhythm and support to vocals and other instruments. Alternatively, they're plugged in and pumped up 'til they bear little resemblance to their acoustic origins.

But don't tell that to Bob MacLean. The veteran guitarist -- born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, and living in Guelph, Ontario -- might just laugh in your face. As evidence, he may point to his own CD, Dancing on a String, which exhibits some of the amazing versatility and virtuosity a guitar is capable of -- in the hands of the right man, such as MacLean.

Working alone, without other instruments to distract from the solo sound, MacLean provides his own melodies, harmonies, rhythms and percussion, putting his guitar through its paces and demonstrating just what it can do. He tosses jazz, blues, rock and other techniques into the mix, coming up with his own sound grounded solidly in folk and Celtic styles.

I particularly liked "Celtic Fare" and "Celtino," two medleys which weave a colorful, eclectic tapestry of music. But the entire CD easily held my attention for for the duration of a lengthy drive -- this is tight, talented playing.

[ by Tom Knapp ]