Natalie MacMaster,
Yours Truly
(Rounder, 2006)

Newly wed and newly mommied, Natalie MacMaster shows no signs of slowing down. Her immeasurable talent on the fiddle, matched only by her boundless energy, is back full force on her latest CD, Yours Truly.

The album pays equal tribute to Natalie's native Cape Breton tradition and her own sparkling creativity as a composer and arranger. And, while there are certainly touches here and there that harken back to her roots as a pure-drop performer, Yours Truly signals her further growth into a unique and diverse star.

Perhaps taking a hint from the playbook of celebrated Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers, Natalie digs deeply into the varied branches of jazz, pop and world music. And, under her guiding hand and watchful eye, and with the assistance of a fine cadre of musicians under her wing, it almost all works to an exceptional degree.

Natalie, for those who aren't already fans, is the musical ambassador from Cape Breton Island to the world. While her Nova Scotian home boasts an incredible (and, some might say, unfair) number of gifted fiddlers, she, more than any other in this (or, for that matter, any) generation, has brought the island's musical traditions to the world and made traditional music exciting again, both to hear and to play. Yours Truly, her 10th recording, is another in a long line of exciting benchmarks in Natalie's musical evolution.

The album does have two missteps, however. One, midway through the recording, is a doleful rendition of "Danny Boy" featuring former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald on vocals. While it's nice to hear a different take on the overplayed song, the song drags Natalie's momentum to a standstill. The second comes at the end, on Natalie's self-indulgent track "Interlude," which marries a minimalist fiddle-and-piano composition with what on any other album would be the acknowledgements buried in the liner. While it's touching to know Natalie appreciates her fans, her family, her faith, her husband and her new baby, Mary Frances, a recitation of these facts does not make for very interesting listening, especially the second time.

Otherwise, this album is a gem. Yours Truly is an unquestionable treat, a top-shelf selection for any music fan.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

9 August 2008

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