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The Best of Ashley MacIsaac

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Album Review

Genre-bending, left-handed Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac may not be a household name in the United States, but he's a force to be reckoned with in the Great White North, especially in his native Cape Breton. By capably blending elements of rock, electronic, folk, and even hip-hop into traditional Irish, Scottish, and Canadian folk music, he has successfully (for the most part) earned himself a reputation as wily and unpredictable, both musically and socially (he once said in an interview that he wanted "to be weirder than Michael Jackson), which is why the Best of Ashley MacIsaac is so disappointing. While his three most notable songs ("To America We Go," "Little House Around the Corner," and "Sleepy Maggie") are here, only seven others make the trip. MacIsaac may not have a "Shakespearian" canon of work behind him but surely he deserves more than a ten-song retrospective, unless this is the kind of product that gets its own kiosk at the grocery checkout.

Customer Reviews


The included review here that calls this "so disappointing" for not including more is jaded and simply wrong. If I had to narrow it down to ten tracks this would be it and it flows from song to song shining like one great big epic jewel. Ashley's unpredictability is part of his charm, but he also shoots himself in the foot with it from time to time making many of his releases more "difficult listening music." And while I love his work in its entirety, there aren't any brain crunchers or potholes here. This best of is truly that.

There's one major flaw in this release... one disc

I'm sure any consistent follower of Ashley's career will agree -- the man has two sides to his work: contemporary and traditional. To release one, solitary disc and call it "best of" is a serious error. Many musicians try to do traditional and contemporary work at the same time and almost always end up being a tad mediocre at one of them. Ashley is not one of those musicians. In this sense Ashley, by his own nature, is two musicians embodied in one man. On the one end, you have one of the most accomplished, inventive players of the Cape Breton tradition. On the other, an ingenious modern-day musician that bends his homegrown culture seamlessly with new, innovative styles and genres. Two discs are sorely needed -- one representing each of his unique strengths. I will always be a fan, but this collection falls far short of sampling the "best" of Ashley. Cheers.


Born: February 24, 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...
Full Bio
The Best of Ashley MacIsaac, Ashley MacIsaac
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