All Hands (Independent)
Spearheaded by two fine fiddlers, Màiri Rankin and Wendy MacIsaac, Beòlach creates innovative and exciting arrangements of traditional Cape Breton, Scottish, and Irish tunes for fiddle, bagpipes, piano, and guitar.
Pianist Mac Morin provides creative accompaniment and Matt MacIsaac impresses with his virtuosity on whistles and bagpipes and provides solid and rhythmic guitar backing.
This is their third release following Beòlach (2001) and Variations (2004) and the 15-year hiatus before All Hands has done nothing to dull the intensity and enthusiasm of their playing.
There’s a mix of original compositions and freshly minted arrangements of classic traditional tunes. Stand-out tracks include Kilts on Fire, with its lilting intro that leads on to a throbbing groove over which the pipes and fiddles lay down the driving melody. Backstreet Girls combines strathspey and reels and provides a showcase for Rankin and MacIsaac’s twin fiddling prowess. A welcome return to form from a much-missed group.