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Album Review

Volatile Nova Scotian fiddler and singer/songwriter Ashley MacIsaac's penchant for experimentation has often led him into some interesting projects, such as 1995's Celtic rock oddity Hi How Are You Today? and 2003's self-titled foray into adult alternative rock, but Pride — a raw and rowdy collection of heartache, rage, and introspection — feels as suspicious as the Marky Mark-style gangster picture that graces the inside jacket. Gone is the Cape Breton-style fiddler of Fine Thank You Very Much and Close to the Floor, replaced here by compressed drums, distorted guitars, and thin, lo-fi vocals that sneer through faux-punk songs with titles like "Bitch" and "High Time Living." MacIsaac's voice has gotten stronger over the years — think Skip Spence imitating Nick Cave — and some of the material, like the bluesy "Nights Wasted Away," actually benefits from his ragged delivery, but while it may be liberating for MacIsaac to forsake the instrument that got him where he is in the first place, it is ultimately at the audience's expense.


Born: 24 February 1975 in Criegnish, Cape Breton, Nova Scot

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Ashley MacIsaac is, in a sense, the musical representative of the pre-millennial generation of Atlantic Canada. An ardent traditionalist (and cousin of international Celtic performer Natalie MacMaster) with a penchant, nevertheless, for experimentation, this young Nova Scotian native has been taught to play the fiddle the working-class, pub-stomp Cape Breton way: fast, furious, and with phenomenal precision. Alternately considered a rebel, taking the old fiddling conventions in newfangled directions...
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Pride, Ashley MacIsaac
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