Natalie MacMaster is one of many talented artists to have emerged from Canada over the years but she is one of the few who has made an international name for herself to the complex and jovial nature in which she harnesses a fiddle.
Hailing from the rural community of Troy in Inverness, Nova Scotia, MacMaster has beguiled countless people with her charming and upbeat music. Her most recent release Sketches is out now and is another jaunt into her stunning, mesmeric and truly captivating style of folk. Concentrating her immeasurable talents across a range of songs both old and new that take on a whimsical and worldly notion. Songs such as Morning Galliano have a strong European influence within then, almost French at times and almost nautical at others; while songs like Killiecrankie are softer, more sombre melodies, more evocative of a Celtic styling. The result is a restless album that captures you by the heart and leads you ever onwards on a charming journey without ever needing to hear a word.
MacMaster is a true patron of her craft as she brings forth some of the most amazing and seemingly otherworldly tunes from her fiddle. As comfortable with soothing and sentimental melodies as she is with her break-neck speed ones, it means that Sketches is able to transform itself at will, never needing to shackle itself to any one particular notion or emotion for too long and indeed as the album progresses you will always find yourself coming hurtling back to an immense and warming sense of joy. Rich waterfalls of sound are painted like oil on canvas as MacMaster takes over the whole of your mind. Accompanying her on her journey are a collection of gentle and jovial guitar medleys that hang lightly in the air above her dancing fiddles. The raucous nature of MacMaster’s work is actually a daring coverup for the delicate nature of her work – so much of herself is audibly poured into this music and every note is perfect and played with such purpose. The delicate balance that she has created within her work could be undone at the drop of a pin but instead builds within itself time and again.
Sketches is a beautiful album that can lift your spirits as easily as MacMaster lifts a bow. It’s a collection of reels, tunes and melodies that absorb the sounds of spring and bring them to you all year round with a never-ending spring in their step. Nothing short of a joy to listen to, MacMaster has created another masterpiece that is worthy of her renown.
Review by Joe Knipe