Natalie MacMaster


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While Natalie MacMaster has carved out her reputation mining Cape Breton fiddle traditions, Blueprint finds her combining her forceful style with contemporary acoustic music. This merging of genres takes place on a couple of levels. "A Blast," "Appropriate Dipstick," and "Jig Party" stick close to traditional themes, even though the presence of a full band drives these pieces forward at a propulsive rate. "Eternal Friendship" is quieter, augmenting MacMaster's melodic fiddle with piano and dobro. Tradition, however, gets pretty much tossed out the window on "A Touch of the Master's Hand," with John Cowan wailing over a full drum kit, thumping bass, and fiery fiddle. While no other cut pushes the sonic boundaries this far, MacMaster and her bandmates do delve into new acoustic music on "Gravel Shore," classical on "Devil and the Dirk," and progressive Celtic on "Minnie & Alex's Reel." It's easy to credit the high-profile guest list -- Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and Victor Wooten -- for the project's success, but that's only partly true. Too many instrumental albums begin sounding the same by the third cut, and quickly fade into the background. MacMaster finds her way around this conundrum by mixing eclectic material, inspired musicianship, and her commanding style to make Blueprint an exciting and fun album.

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