Paul Cranford & Friends,
The Lighthouse
(Cranford Publications, 1996)

Paul Cranford and friends have collected a fair selection of fiddle tunes in the Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish traditions in The Lighthouse. There is, moreover, a fineness, almost a classical sound -- rather like something in the mode of Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald. Not quite as neat, but an energetic and full-bodied group of arrangements to be sure.

Most admirably, Paul has solved the difficult task of attributing composers to the portfolio of tunes used to produce an album by creating a wide and impressive array of his own. Most of the tunes on The Lighthouse are his own compositions, and the rest from some of his musical friends. It is, I think, a fine compilation of music in the Celtic tradition.

Yet I hear an accent, a minstrel quality to this music that transcends any narrow definition. I wonder if it might be the instruments rather than the notes that create such an airy and cool sound to the melodies.

Guitar, flute, a second fiddle and piano supply accompaniment. Accomplished musicians add restrained rhythms, keeping fiddle notes easily recognizable. Especially great is that the notes are so clear and the playing not too fast. Changes of pace are well defined. Luckily for musicians, there's also a tune book produced by Cranford Publications called The Lighthouse Collection that contains all 57 tunes found here, and more. In all, this album makes a very useful learning tool.

Many tunes have a familiar air of Cape Breton melody to them at their beginning and then flow into rich tunes with voices of their own. Thoroughly enjoyable. I can't say how many times I listened to the album and found myself toe-tapping along with it.

I like this CD. It's good listening music and there's a variety of reels, jigs, waltzes and strathspeys. I was impressed by solid fiddle playing and accompaniment that offered fresh sound to a familiar tradition. It's a keeper.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002