Laurel MacDonald

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Chroma Review

by Bob Gottlieb

This haunting blend of traditional Cape Breton music and modern technology is at once comforting and powerful. Laurel MacDonald's music is inextricably tied to the traditions of Cape Breton and its Scottish/Irish roots. No matter how heavily she relies on new technology, the strength of this connection always shines through. Those familiar with Mary Jane Lamond's Suas E! will have an inkling of what to expect here, as she was the co-producer of that disc along with Phil Strong, who happens to produce this record. Like Lamond's disc, Chroma is sung in a mix of Gaelic and English, to very good effect. MacDonald's voice is breathy and soft, floating with the music like a bird soars on the thermals. "Lament of the Birds" is a perfect showcase for her ethereal yet strong voice, which holds the listener transfixed by the visual images it projects. At other times her voice speaks with a simmering authority, as on "Trans-Chant." Part of McDonald's effectiveness is that she uses the music to support the mood that her voice is trying to convey. And it is that voice which makes Chroma such a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

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