Published Jan 21, 2014Who doesn't love the bagpipes? No convocation procession, funeral of a fallen hero, or misty morning valley is complete without them. But popping a bag on the first track of an album ostensibly of fiddle music is a bit like waking up to the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. Poor Angus knows how to get your attention, though, and their new Celtic-folk record, Gathering, does a first-rate job of keeping it.
The band's third studio album is among the very best examples of traditional Celtic music with a modern twist. Their success in last year's CBC Searchlight Competition, finishing fourth out of 3000 bands, also suggests that there's still space and an appetite in Canada for the kind of energetic take on traditional folk popularized in the '90s by the likes of Spirit of the West and Great Big Sea.
Poor Angus is Ontario's claim to what was once a coastal stronghold. Nine of the 11 tracks on Gathering are originals. They're arranged beautifully and range seamlessly across up-tempo fiddle and tin whistle tracks, melodic, slow-gathering odes, to sea and mining shanties, and instrumental lullabies. "Something I Can't See" and "Slow Song," replete with just the right amount of Uilleann pipe, are standouts on an album of gems. (Borealis Records & Fogarty’s)