Natalie MacMaster

In My Hands

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The basic approach taken by Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster and her producer, arranger, and guitarist Gordie Sampson is to take a group of traditional tunes, for example, the march and three reels mixed together and called "The Farewell," and come up with a folk-rock arrangement that emphasizes MacMaster's lyrical playing as well as a sturdy backbeat. But the two feel the need to spice things up even more, and so there are several unusual tracks, starting with the lead-off title song, in which MacMaster recites a lyric in tribute to her instrument, and including "Space Ceilidh," which features some appropriately spacy "programming"; "Olympic Reel," a rock workout with new age elements written by Mark O'Connor, who duels with MacMaster on his own fiddle; and "Get Me Through December," a ballad with Alison Krauss on vocals. The result is a hybrid album intended to appeal to a broader audience than the purist Celtic crowd, or perhaps to introduce them to some new sounds without putting them off.

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