Friday, May 30, 2014

Neil Driscoll

Most of the banjo heard today has a strong rhythmic component, whether played in an old-time clawhammer way or three-fingered bluegrass style. Neil Driscoll approaches the banjo in a different way, treating it more as a melodic instrument, taking a role one might expect a fiddle or maybe a clarinet to take on his new CD.

Read my full review of Take It Easy, But Take It on +RootsWorld.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nordic Masters

The Nordic Master is a program formed by the folk music academies of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. One of the recent student projects from that program was an ensemble called Blink. Now two members of Blink have new recordings of their own.

For Ulvsand & Hjetland, +Jullie Hjetland, the Danish/Norwegian vocalist in Blink, teamed up with Sweden's +Jens Ulvsand, a veteran of Trio Mio, Yölariis, and other Scandinavian ensembles. The core of this record has Hjetland singing accompanied by Ulvsand on bouzouki. There is occasional autoharp and ukulele, and some looping too, but these serve to support the bouzouki and vocals which are at the heart of each of these songs.

In contrast, the new record from Blink's Johanna-Adele Jüssi, Kiilid, is a straightforward record with traditional roots, branching in a new acoustic direction rather than into the aether. Jüssi is a fiddler from Estonia, which sits just 50 miles south of Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland, and she makes the Nordic-Baltic leap seem effortless. Half of the tunes on this record are her own compositions or co-writes. The other half are traditional tunes, three from Estonia and two from Denmark.

Read my full reviews of Ulvsand & Hjetland and Kiilid on +RootsWorld.