Paul Cranford and Friends’ The Lighthouse

unknownNaomi de Bruyn wrote this review for Folk Tales.

Paul Cranford is a lighthouse keeper, and that is where the title for this disc came from. It is filled with enchanting Cape Breton Fiddle Music. There are a total of 57 tunes on this disc, and the majority of them are all original compositions by Paul. He had a few friends join him for this production, and all of them are as richly talented as he is. Otis Tomas (2nd fiddle), Siobhan O’Keeffe (flute), Gordon MacLean (piano), Paul MacDonald (guitar), Sonny Slade (guitar), and Paul Cranford himself on the fiddle.

Cape Breton, Canada, is an island rich in musical history and heritage kept alive by a number of phenomenal musicians. It is not surprising to hear from another of them, and since keeping a lighthouse can leave many hours for practising and composing; Paul’s incredible abilities come as no real surprise, either. In fact I can imagine the number of ceilidhs this artist finds himself invited to!

There are so many different standout tracks to chose from that it is difficult, however, since I have always been partial to reels, I’ll begin with one of them. Reels in A minor consists of two tunes. “Siobhan’s Request” and “Distant Bells.” The first is begun with Siobhan on the flute, and her notes are clear, rich, and vibrant. The guitar joins in soon after and the pair twirl and twine about one another for a short time, and then the fiddle enters the merry dance of notes. It is a sprightly piece, as a reel should be, and brings to mind a spring day, a trilling brook, and a clan gathering. A seamless joining of the two reels enables the listener to just enjoy the pieces and not be bothered with any disruption.

My next choice consists of a lament, a march, and two reels in D. “After the Storm” is a bittersweet lament, with the fiddle notes evoking a feeling of deep anguish. This is followed by “Alice MacEachern” a rather feisty march tune, with the guitar and fiddle accompanying one another. The reels are “Rakesh” and “Wild Honey” and the piano joins the fiddle and guitar for the final reel. This set would leave any dancer breathless, and enjoying it immensely.

Finally, I had to chose Jigs in E minor, just to round out the styles of course. “The Melancholy Child” is a rolling tempo, and sounds almost like something one would hear from gypsies. This tune blends into “Broderick’s Pub,” and ends with “Hector Josey’s” which was written by Hector MacKenzie. The piano and fiddle accompany one another, and at times appear to chase one another through cascades of pure notes.

Should you like good Cape Breton fiddling and original compositions, then this is the disc for you. Paul Cranford is a talented fiddler with sensitive fingers and impassioned playing.

(Self-released, 1996)

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