(independent, 2004)

Beolach is equally as adept in the recording studio as they are in their performances on stage, as their latest CD, Variations, clearly proves. The CD portrays an amazing amount of energy and liveliness that grasps the ear from the first track to the last.

Unlike other albums, I don't just skip right to a certain track. I like the whole darn thing! Their arrangements of tunes are really interesting because of the variety in the instrumentation that they have. While their main ensemble is always two fiddles (Wendy MacIsaac and Mairi Rankin), piano (Mac Morin), pipes/whistle (Ryan J. MacNeil) and guitar (Patrick Gillis), this CD portrays some extra talents. Track 5 ("The Gift Box Set") features MacIsaac on banjo and some tracks feature Morin on accordion. The combination of all the talents is nothing short of impressive.

While I don't skip any of the tracks, I do have to admit that I have a couple favorites. One of them is track 6, the "Corporal AB" set. I love how it begins with a beautiful slow jig that kicks into some faster tunes. I also enjoy how the instruments are gradually added in throughout the set.

Track 10, "David Rankin's," is another favorite. The beginning is slow in tempo, but not lacking in energy. It also ends with some faster tunes.

Lastly, I enjoy the final set on the album, "The West Mabou Set," because it is live and it shows how energetic Beolach is on stage. It gives the listener a wonderful example of traditional Cape Breton music, as well.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who is looking for some good Celtic music or some music that makes you want to get up and dance.

by Kaitlin Hahn
3 June 2006

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