Natalie MacMaster - In My Hands

In My Hands

Natalie MacMaster

ROUN7025 Rounder Records
One Camp St
Cambridge, Ma 02140

A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

Describing In My Hands is a little like the blind men trying to describe an elephant. Depending on where on the album you listen, you find a different type or flavor of music - all with a common bond of Natalie's wonderful fiddle playing. The album cover and the first vocal track would make you think you had a pop recording, but the second track has 6 traditional Cape Breton style fiddle tunes with a little bit of contemporary flavor from drums, organ and electric bass in the backup. Moving on you find Blue Bonnets Over the Border, a Scottish marching tune with quite a lot of percussion and organ which are reminiscent of pipes and drums. Different but tasteful. Later there are a number of traditional jigs and reels to set your feet to tapping. Throw in some strings and get almost classical in Father John MacLeod's Jig. There are even a couple vocals on this mainly instrumental CD.

In My Hands blends traditional Cape Breton fiddle with contemporary sounds of percussion, organ and electric guitar to produce an album that is interesting and quite enjoyable. Natalie is joined on the album by some notable guest artists: Mark O'Connor is a fiddling giant in his own right and shares the spotlight on the tune Olympic Reel. Alison Krauss lends her beautiful voice in a lament called Get Me Through December. Guitarist Jesse Cook plays flamenco guitar on the track called Flamenco Fling, which also brings in trumpet and horn arrangements. Sharon Shannon plays accordion on several of the jigs and reels included in the mix.

There are thirty two instrumentals and two vocals on this album in fourteen tracks. One set of jigs (Mom's Jig) even incudes Natalie's step dancing in the accompaniment - shades of John Hartford! There are enough jigs and reels to satisfy the Cape Breton fiddle connoisseurs, yet enough contemporary arrangements to keep the album interesting enough to appeal to a wider audience. It is a wonder that such diversity could all hold together, but MacMaster's fiddle keeps it working. Natalie is a true master of the Cape Breton fiddle.

Edited by: Jonathan Colcord

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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