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RootBeat Records RBRCD17

Tunes and songs from England, Estonia, Norway, Sweden and the USA compromise the ten tracks on this debut album from sisters Rowan (Lady Maisery) and Anna Rheingans. Produced by Andy Bell, the overall tone of the material suggests traditional English folk-dance, although there are clear reminders of the ladies’ Scandinavian background, and a flavour of Eastern European influences.

The tunes are largely violin-based and their length allows Rowan and Anna to showpiece their intricate interplay and musicianship. The melody on Pelle’s Lilla Julschottis is especially catchy. Studio recordings inevitably involve some restraint and it is easy to imagine live performances of the pieces providing a platform for the sisters’ spontaneity and improvisation.

The sisters share the vocals on the four songs. These include the traditional Sorry The Day and Factory Girl, the latter from Pete Seeger’s catalogue. The intriguing Bread And Roses is based on a poem about a 1912 Massachusetts women workers’ strike, and touchingly describes their struggles and successes. October Song with the album title in the lyrics, is more bluegrass in nature, featuring Rowan on banjo.

Light, and easy on the ear, Glad Gold Hearts is a pleasant listen, allowing Rowan and Anna to show their vocal competence and their expertise on a range of instruments. It may be the forerunner of much more to come from these talented young musicians.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.