When I put this CD in, the first sound that comes through is the sound of a live crowd, chatting away, as they do at live bar shows before the act starts. It’s there the whole time through this CD from Danny MacNeil. At first, I thought it would be an annoying distraction to the songs that MacNeil was showcasing – and being just a five-song-sample, I didn’t want anything to take away from what there was. However, I quickly realized how much it added to the CD overall. It made each song sound wonderfully full, plus it came in and out at perfect times, as if the people in the background were an instrument in themselves—fading on the quiet parts, increasing during the more dramatic, high-energy stuff; even singing along for most of the songs, adding an almost choral feel to MacNeil’s choruses (most notably on “Hang Off Your Reply” and “Pass Me the Whiskey”).
The album itself is very no frills. As the title suggests, it was recorded live at Governors Pub, straight off the floor. No effects added, no edits (other than some fading between songs to have them flow together), no re-takes. Despite this, the sound is perfect. MacNeil’s voice and guitar-playing are perfect for this project, for this venue, and for this crowd. The songs themselves are very well written and performed, but more importantly with this album, MacNeil shows that he writes music that can not only catch a crowd’s attention, but hook them in and have them fully engrossed in his songs. It’s a true testimonial to Cape Breton’s music scene: the music is great, and the crowd is very supportive (and, I’d wager, at least a little bit drunk) as you can tell through their chanting along with the words and yelling out “Yeah Danny!” Ending the set with a sing-along to the last lines of “Pass Me the Whiskey” rather than applause is a nice touch, and really, just a classy move. Not looking for credit—just presenting the music as it is.
This CD is out just in time for the big ECMA weekend, so if you hurry up you might be able to catch one of Danny MacNeil‘s many sets over the weekend and snag an album.