Various Artists

Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton, Vol. 2: The Rover's Return

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Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton, Vol. 2: The Rover's Return is the second volume in a projected four-disc series of recordings of fiddlers from Nova Scotia's Cape Breton island focuses on musicians from the Kenloch region, north of Lake Ainslie, where the Scottish influence is especially pervasive. Indeed, only the occasionally obvious Canadian tune, and the frequent presence of piano accompaniment, will tip off most listeners as to the regional origins of these recordings; otherwise, they sound as if they could have been made in some Highlands cottage. Listeners expecting something like the clean virtuosity of Natalie MacMaster might be disappointed; not only is the sound quality often dodgy (these are field recordings, not studio productions), but the playing itself is sometimes wobbly and inexact. In one case in particular -- that of John MacDougall -- the resulting sound is simply terrible. But elsewhere, like on Allan MacDonald and Morgan MacQuarrie's lilting set of duet strathspeys or Willie Kennedy's lovely set of clog dances and reels (on which he is very nicely accompanied by pianist Gordon MacLean), the technical imperfections add just the right edge to the sweet and slightly melancholy melodies. This album isn't always easy listening, but just about everything on it is worth the effort it sometimes takes.

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