Four in the Crib
(Oh Ha, 1999)
Though you will never get to see Kilt live, clap your hands and take a turn about the dance floor to their fantastic music. You should buy their second album Four in the Crib if you ever stumble across it. If you do, the Fates will surely have smiled on you!
"Why?" you may ask. "Why should one little CD bring me such joy?" Simply because, for their brief career, Kilt was one of the best there was.
Releasing only two albums before calling it quits, they gathered fans like no other. They sang from the heart, played like there was no tomorrow and had enough talent to astonish even those who don't like Celtic music. They reminded us what it was that brought us to the style in the first place. Coming along just as many of the original groups of the Canadian Celtic revival of the 1990s were going mainstream or breaking up, to be replaced by second-rate groups riding on the popularity of the originals, Kilt stepped in, played it properly and brought us back to the fold.
Four in the Crib features 14 tracks of original and traditional music performed to perfection by the four members. The musicianship is stunning, the vocals strong and simple, the writing insightful and lyrical. All songs have been written by the group, while many of the instrumentals are traditional.
The four members are Tony Ronalds (lead vocals), Bonny Jean MacDonald (fiddle and vocals), Brennan MacDonald (guitars, vocals and lead vocals on two tracks) and Brian Buckle (drums, percussion, vocals). The additional musicians and contributors are pretty amazing as well. J.P. Cormier, Hilda Chiasson-Cormier, Jamie Foulds, Scott MacFarlene (who plays vegetables apparently; really no clue what they sound like though), Mike Sheperd and Gordie Sampson all played various instruments or roles in creating this album.
The songs cover a lot of ground, from happy party songs such as "Island Kitchen" and "Lift Up Your Glass," recorded live, to love songs like "Hold You So." "Prince Albert's Reel" was written by Bonnie Jean for Prince Albert of Monaco after he saw their show. "Dylan's Ghost" features Bonnie Jean's fantastic fiddle playing and vocals that have a haunting quality to them. "Shift" and "Everything'll Be Alright" display the talented writing and playing of all members of the group, as well as the folksy singing of Ronalds and MacDonald. The final track "(Dirty) Dinky Dorrian's Reel" is played on the electric guitar, which is a bit of a shock after all the traditional style fare. The instrumental sets are amazing. All the members are fantastically skilled and the inspired arranging contains all the energy of a live show.
Four in the Crib is a fantastic recording. It is difficult to find, but well worth the effort. If you are lucky enough to stumble across a copy, buy it! There are very few CDs I would recommend without hesitation, but this is definitely one of them. There is not a single misstep on the entire recording. It is a shame Kilt is gone, but at least they left one heck of an album!