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The Departure
Own Label CCCD10

Now out of her teens and onto her second album, this Cape Breton fiddler is breaking the mould - mostly in a good way! There are several moments of sublime music on The Departure: a gorgeous change into The Moving Cloud, a fabulous piano version of Calum Crubach, impressive double stopping on Chrissy Crowley's Reel (written by guitarist Ian Hayes), and the beautiful air Memories of Archie Neil to finish. There are also a couple of memorable moments on the opening track, either side of some guitar weirdness: Chrissy's arrangement of The Glen Road to Carrick is spontaneous and surprising, certainly a departure from the norm, but quite breathtaking in places. Scott Macaulay's tune Highland Storm also deserves a mention in justifying The Departure as an album title: arranged for Latin rhythms and Carribean steel pans, it works perfectly and provides a nice contrast to the more traditional tracks. I'd have put it in the middle of the CD, but you can position it as you wish.

I wrote of Chrissy's 2007 debut that her jigs were not as strong as her reels, and I think that's still true here. There is only one set of jigs on this recording, and whilst it's nothing to be ashamed of, the reels are better. There are a lot of them, too: almost two dozen, and they're all pretty good. Chrissy plays with a low-down dirty tone that suits the more grungy reels, tunes which hover around low E particularly. Her own tunes The Doppleganger and Hayezed & Confused (returning the compliment to Ian Hayes) are good examples. As well as Mr Hayes, who plays mean fiddle and banjo in addition to his guitars, Chrissy is joined by pianist Jason Roach to give this album the classic Cape Breton sound: fiddle, piano and guitar. The arrangements here stretch from the traditional to the theatrical, with some elaborate intros and cadenzas. Sometimes it doesn't work, as Sandy Brechin famously said, but generally Chrissy and friends carry it off in style. I'm not sure what Chrissy Crowley will do next, but it will probably be interesting! The Departure is definitely worth checking out: listen to samples online at where mail order should be available.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.