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CORDELIA'S DAD "Spine" Appleseed Recordings APR1023

The surprising thing about the music on this album is the way it creates such a specific impression of being roots music from a very specific place. Whether that is a real impression I have no means of saying, but the collection of songs and tunes Cordelia's Dad have put together here mix together into a stew of evocations of that part rural, part industrial eastern seaboard USA which brought us Jean Ritchie and Hedy West, Sherlock Holmes in the Valley of Fear and Sean Connery as a union buster in the Irish and Welsh dominated metal industries.

Recorded in Massachusetts the album had more of the feel of a field recording than of revival singers in a studio. There's even a spectacular bum note in Tim Eriksen's stunning unaccompanied version of "Montcalm and Wolfe" - better known here as "Bold Wolfe" - which, though jarring, gives an authenticity to the performance, which the sleeve notes suggest is intended to recreate the style of a particular source singer. It is difficult to be sure, as it seems the record company want us to pay extra for detailed sleeve notes, which from a consumer point of view seems a somewhat dubious practice.

That cannot be laid at the door of the band, though, and they have done an excellent job. All the songs sound to be traditional, and range from unaccompanied songs from Eriksen, Cath Oss and Peter Irvine; songs accompanied by fiddle, banjo and drum, like the almost nursery-rhymish "Spencer Rifle", some fiddle tunes and exquisite banjo and fiddle duets on "Abe's Retreat". This is the sound of real American country music.

Bob Harragan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 31 of The Living Tradition magazine.