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KATIE MCNALLY TRIO - The Boston States

KATIE MCNALLY TRIO - The Boston States
Private Label

The city of Boston is well-known as a major centre of Irish-American music, but it was also, over many years, an American home to expatriate Cape Breton Islanders who brought their Scottish-influenced music with them to the dancehalls of the Bostonian Watertown area. This provided the broad background for the young fiddler Katie McNally, where she herself played for dances and in sessions.

Katie is joined here by pianist Neil Pearlman and viola player Shauncey Ali to produce an album of both traditional and original tunes, and as an ensemble they have come up with a variety of complex and innovative arrangements. The tunes are given a richer feel from Shauncey’s viola than a more usual fiddle would have provided, and Neil’s piano riffs are simultaneously reflective of the strong Cape Breton chording style whilst also drawing on a marked syncopation. The lower-toned instrumentation of the two guys allows Katie’s fiddle to bounce lightly over the higher register to give an overall exciting and attention-grabbing sound.

The CD is produced by Wendy MacIsaac, the Cape Breton fiddler, who also adds foot percussion to the recording, together with fellow guests Cathy Porter on percussion and Finlay MacDonald on border pipes and whistle. Everything gels together extremely well; the overall sound is punchy and dynamic, as well as highly enjoyable.

Just one little observation on the packaging, however – whoever told the printers that small font red printing on a dark blue background is legible was indulging in the current trend of “alternative facts”!

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.