Kate MacLeod,
Deep in the Sound of Terra
(independent, 2017)

Described on the jacket as landscape-infused fiddle-inspired music, Kate MacLeod's new album reflects the geography of America. As she says in the notes, "I call these pieces 'vio-fiddle' music because they have derived from many styles of music I've explored in my fifty years of playing the violin."

To serve her theme, she has written tunes touching on many genres, from experimental to jazz, from folk to classical, Celtic to blues, old-time and bluegrass. Each cut is different and to enhance the difference, MacLeod has brought aboard a slew of guest artists -- Darol Anger, Kevin Burke, Kat Eggleston, Otter Creek, Dylan Schorer and a host of others show up and help her bring to life one of the most ambitious and unusual fiddle albums of the year.

Deep in the Sound of Terra is a beauty. The opening track, "Blue Sky Blue Prelude," is experimental in nature, sounding improvised, with a new-agey, jazzy sort of feel to it that sees the violin going in unexpected directions, while being complemented by 3hattrio, signaling an adventure is at hand. On the next tune, with Skip Gorman on mandolin and Christopher Layer on whistle, MacLeod takes a turn for the Celtic on "Maxwell Parrish Sky." "The Train Across the Great Salt Lake" dips into bluegrass while "Assonet Bay" reflects a traditional Irish air.

Each song brings in a different tone, a unique feel and its own style, but rather than being a collection of random tunes in random styles, it is all unified by its solid grounding in folk music.

A singer as well as a violinist, MacLeod sticks to instrumental music in this album, which might disappoint some fans of her singing and lyric writing -- of which there are many; she was voted "best songwriter" by the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association. I'm willing to bet, though, that after a single listening to this CD, those fans will find their disappointment dissipated and replaced by joy.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

28 October 2017

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