The Traditional Album

The Barra MacNeils

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The Traditional Album Review

by Aaron Badgley

Always keeping the public guessing, the Barra MacNeils followed up their most commercial release (in Canada), Closer to Paradise, with an instrumental album of traditional maritime/Celtic jigs, reels, and ballads. All were expertly played by the band, and all were nicely arranged. However, one could not help but feel this was a step back for the group following such a progressive previous release. And, as with their early albums, the Barra MacNeils tend to stick pretty close to traditional arrangements, offering very little deviance. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, in fact, for these talented players (just listen to Lucy MacNeil's violin playing throughout, and Kyle MacNeil's haunting mandolin); they can carry it off with apparent ease. This album did serve as a reminder to new fans just where their hearts and influences lay, and perhaps it turned some new listeners on to an age-old musical style. An enjoyable listen.

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