Lori Gordon

Bletherings From a Music Obsessed Mind

Mini Album Reviews

The following are a series of brief album reviews:

ragnhild toreRagnhild Furebotten & Tore BruvollHekla Stålstrenga. This album is a mix of vocal and instrumental, traditional and original music. The vocals here, by Anne Nymo Trulsen, are delivered in a refreshingly contemporary folk style. Ragnhild’s fiddling is stellar. The upbeat tunes are lively and joyous, the slower tunes gentle and sweet. This album has a warm, familiar feel to it and fans of Americana will definitely enjoy the instrumental pieces. There are so many fantastic tracks here that I couldn’t pick favorites.

luckysmilecoverRachel HairThe Lucky Smile. I have a confession to make: I generally don’t care for jazz anything and, knowing that she was joined by jazz musicians on the album, I was a wee bit nervous about getting it. What I have discovered is an album that is fresh, fun and delightful! The Lucky Smile is a mix of  traditional songs & tunes, alongside original compositions. Paul Tracey and Andy Sharkey help give each piece a contemporary feel. Overall, this recording feels absolutely alive. My favorite pieces are “I Lost My Harp in Barcelona”, which makes me smile every time I listen to it, the sublime “The Blue Hills of Antrim” and “Leis an Lurgainn.”

joanne three sistersJoanne McIver & Christophe SaunièreThe Three Sisters.  This is an album of entirely original material based around a story Joanne wrote about the Machrie Standing Stones off the coast of her native Arran. Picky as I tend to be about vocals, I was very pleasantly surprised by the vocal tracks on this album. “Machrie Moor”  is a stunning song that has warranted numerous replays. Even more impressive, though, are the instrumental tracks. Christophe’s harp playing  incorporates a lot of jazz elements, bringing a very contemporary feel to many of the pieces. Joanne’s piping is first rate, especially on the rather haunting piece “The White Stag”.

dean owensDean OwensWhisky Hearts.  I really like this album because it totally reminds me of the Texas music scene. For those who aren’t familiar with “Texas music”, it combines a lot of the Nashville-fusion music stylings with the lyrical expression & sensibilities of the “singer/songwriter” genre (think Townes van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle). Dean’s music fits right in; his album spans a range of genres – rock, surfer, country, pop, folk. It all serves to highlight his songwriting skills, which I found to be surprisingly sensitive. My favorites are “Adrift”, “Raining in Glasgow” and “Beth on the Trampoline”.

james scott skinnerJames Scott Skinner – The Strathspey King. The first thing I’ll say about this album is that it is not for the casual listener. I think a person needs to either really like fiddle music, old-timey recordings, or music history to enjoy & appreciate this recording. Though it has been re-processed to remove the scratches and clicks, it is still an old-timey recording, having been recorded in the neighborhood of 100 years ago. I really enjoyed listening to Skinner’s versions of tunes side-by-side with the modern versions. The two tunes that fascinated me the most were “Devil In The Kitchen” and “Tullochgorum”, both of which are very popular with Cape Breton fiddlers. I have approx. 15 versions of “Devil” in my library and I found it interesting that the US-based, non-CB style fiddlers still played the Cape Breton-ized version versus the Scots trad version. This album really gave me a lot of food for thought.

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment