Ashley MacIsaac

Ashley MacIsaac

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Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac is as schizophrenic as ever on his self-titled first release for Decca. With his uniquely punk rock approach to Celtic reels and jigs, MacIsaac has plenty of room to toy with drum loops, reversed passages, and bizarro studio effects, and there are certainly moments where that experimentation pays off. The layered and loping "To America We Will Go" and the brittle "This Is My Father" both benefit from this multi-tiered approach, but it can also seem cluttered and unnecessary ("Grapes" may be the worst of these offenders). MacIsaac's strength has always been in his forceful fiddle playing, and this translates best in his updates of the traditional "Chorus Jig" and "Bog an Login," but the songs he has decided to test his own singing voice on fare less well. While his voice is forceful and in key, it is not necessarily interesting, and although this bluesy bar-belting could do justice to a pub-swaying drinking song or an impassioned battle ballad, on the majority of these tunes it just falls a little flat. Overall, as MacIsaac continues to push the boundaries of Celtic fusion he continues to hit and miss, and on this album the interesting textures and adept playing don't always make up for what the songwriting and singing lack.

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