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Ashley MacIsaac

About Ashley MacIsaac: Ashley MacIsaac is known as the bad-boy of World Music, but you would have a hard time classifying Pride, his latest raw, lo-fi angst-ridden rock release, as a World Music’ album. This 29-year-old Nova Scotian found international acclaim in folk and roots music circles playing the fiddle in the working-class, pub-stomp Cape Breton way: fast, furious and with phenomenal precision. He is one of the top Celtic influenced Roots artists in North America of all time – right up there with Loreena McKennitt and The Chieftains, selling more than 500,000 albums, headlining festivals, and gracing the cover of Folk Roots magazine last year. Ashley describes his new sound as ‘a harder, edgier Rufus Wainright’.

Considered a traditionalist who takes the old fiddling conventions in newfangled directions they were never meant to go, MacIsaac puts his own spin on the sounds he was brought up with. A rebel who recreates Celtic music with an updated, mass-appeal quality is the headstrong approach that led to MacIsaac working with an impressive array of talent: David Byrne, Phillip Glass & the Chieftains to name a few. Already considered something of a local legend and prodigy by the time of his impressive 1992 debut Close To The Floor, MacIsaac broke through to the mainstream with the genre-bending Hi!, How Are You Today? in 1995. International radio play for the single, Sleepy Maggie, featuring the dream-like Gaelic vocals of Mary Jane Lamond, and a regular slot on Canadian video channel Much Music, MacIsaac was soon a Canadian icon. Coming ‘out’ at the peak of the albums success (double Platinum in Canada over 200,000 copies sold in the US) and raising his kilt during his live performance on Conan O’Brien have earned Ashley the reputation as a ‘wild’ and ‘out of control’ eccentric artist.

His ability to cross the boundaries of folk, punk, garage rock, and metal, all bound together by his astonishing fiddle playing have made him a musical pioneer. In 1998, MacIsaac released his follow-up to Hi!, How Are You Today? A more traditional return to form entitled Fine!, Thank You Very Much. In 1999, he pushed the boundaries of stylistic conformity yet again with the electronic- and ambient-tinged Helters Celtic. The fiddler recorded the independent album Fiddle Music 101 after a departure from A&M later that year. A Cape Breton Christmas followed in 1993 and then the self titled Ashley MacIsaac after a move to Decca Records 2003.

MacIsaac’s latest release Pride is a bold step in a new direction (even for him) and offers us the first real glimpse into his mind. For the first time Ashley abandons his fiddle to deliver a remarkable album, where he emerges as a singer-songwriter. Produced by Ron Lopata and John JK Kanakis, Pride’s collection of songs are lo-fi arrangements with distorted guitars that have more in common with Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Beck than with the traditional Celtic influences of his previous recordings.

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