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VA CD Review

By Nicky Rossiter - Rambles

Slainte Mhath, a young quintet from Cape Breton, is a new band to me. The name, pronounced "slawncha va," is Scots-Gaelic for "good health" -- in Irish, we'd spell it "Mhaith," but perhaps the Christian Brothers taught me wrong.

The band members are truly excellent musicians with real love for the music bursting through in every track. It would appear that they are regular contributors on the worldwide festival circuit and, based on this CD, I can imagine a wild and wonderful live performance in front of thousands of lovers of good music.

The instruments featured are the regular components of a traditional band -- fiddle, piano, guitars, bodhran and bagpipes. They also feature "sewer pipes" on one track, which is a first to my knowledge. The majority of the tracks -- there are fourteen in all -- are instrumentals. Unfortunately, vocals are used on three tracks and almost destroy a great CD. "Annie" is one such track where the use of nonsensical vocals serves only to detract from a great tune.

My favourite offering on the CD is "Silver Spear," which makes me forgive the aforementioned piece.

Slainte Mhath is Lisa Gallant (bodhran, fiddle and step-dancing), Boyd MacNeil (octave mandolin, fiddle, guitars and percussion), Ryan MacNeil (keyboards and percussion), Brian Talbot (drums and percussion) and John MacPhee (Highland bagpipes, Scottish reel pipes and Irish flute). This is a group that excels at musicianship and should have a bright future in the music business.

If you have not heard this group, seek them out in live performance or, failing that, buy the album.


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