New Folk/Roots: Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy — ‘Canvas’

A canvas is just about the most exciting thing there is. A blank slate upon which anything is possible. On their new album, titled Canvas, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy — two of the world’s top Celtic fiddlers — bring a musical canvas to life, filling it with passion and drama, and making the disc one of this spring’s most exciting releases.

Canvas, out on Linus Entertainment, is the couple’s third album together. Bringing rock, pop, Latin, and classical influences to their mostly original melodies, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy frame their improvisatory impulses with refined, nuanced choices. They make music that embodies the idea of play — be it an instrumental back-and-forth, or a bold devil-may-care attitude inhabiting a lyric. There is a freedom and an energy captured in these songs that brings a “live” quality to each.

Guests on the album include Rhiannon Giddens, Yo-Yo Ma, Brian Finnegan, and their 17-year-old daughter Mary Frances Leahy. The heart and soul of the album is the Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy collaboration. It is not an overstatement to declare that they bring out the best in each other.

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