Rita MacNeil

Blue Roses

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Cape Breton's Rita MacNeil revisits the styles and sounds that first brought her acclaim, but at times there is a certain sadness and melancholy in her voice as she looks back on her memories, especially on the piano and violin touches of "Floating." The album, written on her own, is quite reflective and pensive throughout. "Knowing When to Go" is more of an uptempo piano-based adult contemporary affair, although it builds quite deliberately. MacNeil never lets loose vocally the way she once did, but she is still able to nail each note to perfection. The way it concludes also brings to mind Bob Seger's narratives, such as "Against the Wind." Listeners might find the arrangements repetitive early on during "Some Things Never Change," yet the singer is able to pull it off with a graceful, effortless approach. The slightly bluesy barroom and gospel-leaning "Memphis" doesn't quite measure up, but here she lets loose, atoning somewhat for the quirky format. Nothing can save the summery-sounding and breezy "Blue Roses," however. The highlight comes during the touching "You Can't Go Home Again," which strikes the right balance between her vocal range and the supporting harmonies. The infectious and roots-like "Never Under 85" is the sleeper on the album, a catchy folk ditty. But she returns again to the prevailing tone of the record on the lovely "Please Believe Me." "Time and Again" concludes the album as MacNeil talks about time "bringing the good around again." This is an album that does nothing but add to her fine Celtic-tinged body of work.

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