Matt MacIsaac,
The Piping Album
(independent, 2004)

Matt MacIsaac has turned out a solid, strong and very traditional piping CD with his aptly named The Piping Album. A strong selection of tunes shows the range and the strengths of this Cape Breton piper.

It's a very easy CD to listen to, as the Lakewind Studio production serves the music well. MacIsaac's playing is straight and narrow, and there's a clear affinity for the old style that resonates in this CD. Traditionalists will enjoy it and yet there's a flow to the CD that will satisfy a modern ear, as well.

Most of the cuts are traditional tunes. There's "The Drunken Landlady," "The Geese in the Bog" and the opening "John MacColl's March to Kilbowie Cottage." "The Firedrill" and "Victoria Road" are two modern arrangements that sit well in the midst of the other sets.

I really enjoyed this CD, played it in my car on several drives. Some piping recordings get tiresome after a few tracks, but this isn't one of them. There's enough diversity in the tunes and arrangements to keep the listener interested.

This is a notable first album with quality sound and an expressive liner with artwork by Lori Morgan that contrasts the old and the new and yet blends the two in a black-and-white montage. One aspect that was missing, and I was actually happy that it was, was a brooding melancholy that takes over some piping tunes. This CD is open wider, acts without apology and puts the tunes into a context for today. If piping is your thing, this is a satisfying album to add to your collection.

by Virginia MacIsaac
5 August 2006