Anna Massie,
Glad Company
(Foot Stompin', 2003)

If you enjoy guitar even a little bit, you have no business not owning Anna Massie's superb CD, Glad Company.

This disc is a powerful collection of tracks, mostly instrumental, many of or borrowing heavily from the Scottish tradition, and nearly all of them spotlighting just how good a guitar can sound in the hands of a master performer. Powerful and vibrant, Anna's playing will carry you through 12 tracks to the end, where you invariably will reach quickly for the replay button to hear it again. She's that good.

She's also not alone, although on several tracks she juggles various instruments and parts to create a just-so arrangement to her liking. On the first track, "Trip to Windsor," for example, she handles melody and accompaniment for a strong guitar duet. No one-trick pony, however, she swaps guitars for fiddle on "Dad's Landrover," joining cohorts Jenn Butterworth on guitar and Mairearad Green on box accordion. Then, on "Westcoaster," Jenn and Mairearad hold onto their instruments while Anna wields both mandolin and tenor guitar. On "The Pippin," Anna pulls out the stops and plays melody and accompaniment guitars, fiddles and banjo.

Jenn supplements the trio's instrumental strengths on "The Mission Hall" and Michael Smith's lovely Civil War song "Spoon River," and her vocals are a pleasant diversion. Mairearad kicks it up an extra notch with the border pipes on "Bogle's Majority" -- with Anna on fiddle and Jenn on guitar, the trio is reminiscent of the late, lamented Texas/Scottish band Clandestine.

The variety of the instrumentation here is one of the album's strengths; even the most fervent guitar idolater might weary of nonstop guitar tracks, but Anna cleverly mixes it up by shining the spotlight on various instruments of her own as well as those plied by Jenn and Mairearad. Named Young Traditional Musician of the Year by Radio Scotland in 2003, this Lochinver native is a composer, arranger and performer to watch closely.

by Tom Knapp
10 September 2005

[ visit Anna Massie's website ]