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World Music CD Reviews North American

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published May 31, 2006

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO CANADA
Rough Guide

In recent decades Canada has produced an inordinate number of comedy stars and equally famous pop divas. This compilation showcases a few of the country’s less glamorized performing artists. When most people (especially outsiders) think of indigenous Canadian music, a few genres come to mind, all featured here: Cape Breton fiddling (Natalie MacMaster) and Celtic performers (Mary Jane Lamond), Québecois traditional music (La Bottine Souriante, Matapat), highly respected singer-songwriters (Bruce Cockburn, Stan Rogers, Wade Hemsworth), and Inuit throat singing (Tudjaat). Other genres include traditional Newfoundland music (Anita Best, Émile Benoit), First Nations music (Kanenhi:io) and even French Cajun music from the Prairies (Crystal Plamondon). The 21 tracks draw from many regions, most high quality. A few obscure tracks, such as the opening winter song by Florent Vollant (one half of Kashtin), are pleasant surprises. Silk Road Music embodies the country’s multi-cultural social fabric by performing a medley of Québecois and Irish tunes on Chinese instruments. Although Francophone culture is well represented, singers of non-traditional songs from Québec have been left out.