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Who can resist a pretty blond who plays a mean fiddle? Not I, said the curmudgeonly reviewer. Natalie MacMaster has made a nice career playing Cape Breton Music for audiences unfamiliar with this regional style. Sitting geographically and stylistically halfway between Irish and Appalachian musical traditions, Cape Breton Island's isolation allowed its unique music to grow and flourish. Most Cape Breton musicians have been crusty old men, which is why it hasn't garnered a higher profile in the pop world. But Natalie MacMaster is neither crusty nor old.
On Yours Truly, Natalie expands her musical palette. Since her 2003 release, Blueprint, she has been touring extensively. Her interactions with fellow musicians at folk and bluegrass festivals can be clearly heard on Yours Truly. Not only her repertoire, but also her orchestrations have grown. Her excellent road band of guitarist Brad Davidge, bass player John Chasson, drummer Miche Pouliot, pianist Allan Dewar, bagpiper Matt Mac Isaac, are joined by cellists Rashid Eggleston and Natalie Haas and banjo player Jens Kruger, and guest vocalist Michael McDonald. Much of the material comes from traditional sources with a cornucopia of reels, jigs, and hornpipes, but you will also find several freshly penned original songs, including "Farewell to Peter," which Natalie wrote in honor of the late news anchor Peter Jennings.
The sound on Yours Truly combines a sumptuous array of euphonic warmth with superb digital clarity. Recorded at five different studios by six different engineers and then edited by Scott Lake and mixed by Mark Vreeken and Dave Sinko, the overall sonic effect is as cohesive as any recording done in a single location. Co-producer and husband Donnell Leahy deserves credit for keeping the overall audio quality so high.
On her eighth Rounder album Natalie MacMaster demonstrates once more that when you combine musical talent with attractive looks the results can be both artistically and commercially successful. She makes music that even a reviewer can love.