Rosie MacKenzie of Baddeck, Cape Breton has released her debut solo album entitled The MacKenzie Project. The little girl who wowed audiences with her fiddling as part of the group The Cottars is all grown up and has put together a wonderful collection of tunes and songs on this eleven track cd.
Rosie begins the CD with a great blast of tunes called “Cluny”. You can hear a hint of the Irish influence on this track, which is a sign of things to come. She continues the Irish flair on the second track with a tune she composed called “Through the Night the Milk Went Bad”.
Besides fiddle, Rosie has included two vocal tracks on the record. Pauline Scanlon from Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland lends her voice to “Dark Rosaleen” and “Bonnie Blue Eyed Lassie”. Rosie provides harmony vocals which add a wonderful complement to Pauline’s distinct voice.
A mix of musicians from Nova Scotia and Ireland play on The MacKenzie Project: Donogh Hennessy, Damien Mullane, Martin Brunsden from Ireland; Howie MacDonald, Brian Talbot from Cape Breton; and Dave MacIsaac from Halifax. You hear a strong Irish influence throughout the whole disc, which is nice change to hear from a Cape Breton fiddler.
“Upside Down” is one cut on the album that has everything—a great opener, a middle that keeps you wanting more, and then it finishes off where it started…back at the beginning. A new trend that seems to be happening among younger fiddlers is changing the traditional order of tunes. Here MacKenzie starts off with a reel, and then goes into a strathspey, back to the reel and finishes it off with the opening reel slowed down. Rosie has brought new life to the tune “Devil in The Kitchen” popularized by Ashley MacIsaac, taking the popular dance tune and giving it some swing while Dave MacIsaac plays a mean Dobro solo in the middle.
“Bury the Cat”, composed by Rosie, and “The Resting Chair” by Tom Anderson are slower numbers. Both are beautiful pieces that show off Rosie’s ability to play with majestic feeling and great skill. Rosie shows that she can play a slow air with the best fiddlers out there.
“Atholes” is no stranger to Cape Breton step dancers, and the “Athole Cummer’s Strathspey” is a common tune played for dancers. Rosie’s version gives it more of a marching strathspey feel. It still however, allows itself to be used for dancing, but it inspires some creativity and more flow in the dancer’s feet.
While listening to The MacKenzie Project, you will find yourself forgetting that the fiddle player is only 20 years old. Her playing and sound embody the craftsmanship of an older, more mature fiddler. This is one album every fiddle lover should have in their collection.