So I was given this cd, entitled “Miles of Skye” by Matt Ender. I'd never heard of Matt Ender prior to seeing the cover of this cd, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Upon looking at the cd cover, I was immediately dismayed by the Celtic knotwork on it, which typically places something in the “Celtic” genre of music.
First, let me explain a little about my views on music. There's Irish music, then there's Celtic music. Irish music is the rip-roaring-pound-back-a-few-pints-and-break-a-few-noses folk music that one hears from greats like The Chieftains, The Battlefield Band, The Bothy Band, Gaelic Storm, and others. Celtic music, on the other hand, is simply New Age music featuring a tinwhistle to give it that “Irish” touch.
Enough of that tangent, however, and back to the subject at hand. I popped the cd in and let it play, and was pleasantly surprised when track one, entitled “Miss Monaghans / Dancin in Ahearn” opened up with Uillean pipes. I'll admit this here and now that I'm a complete whore for any manner of bagpipes, so maybe I'm biased. Fortunately for the sake of this review, that track is the only one featuring any pipes in it, so my bias ends at track one.
After track one, the music winds down in speed. It winds up something akin to the Afro Celt Sound System, with a more traditional slower Irish folk flavor to it. The cd has a little bit of everything as far as emotion goes, from the cheerful “Miss Monaghan” to the lamenting “Ballyvane“. The album features some good vocals, and they're not of vocals that are layered too much with female voices singing “Ooooo” and “ahhhhh” constantly, another thing typically found in Celtic/New Age music. Another thing I liked about this album that keeps it from being shoved into the “Celtic” genre is the roughness of the playing. There's just a certain feel to the fiddle and tinwhistle playing that says that it wasn't overproduced (which is more than I can say for the last few Chieftains albums).
In short, I like the album. Matt Ender did a grand job making it not only sound good, but also making it sound tasteful, which is the most difficult task of all. After hearing this album, I'm honestly quite tempted to go hunt down his previous albums, and I'm looking forward to anything further he puts out. So if you're fond of the “Celtic” and “New Age” genres, you'll probably dig this cd a whole lot more than that flakey stuff you're used to. If you're a fan of traditional Irish folk music, you'll probably enjoy “Miles of Skye” as well.