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Private Label AT001  

If you're familiar with this piano accordionist from her performances and recordings with the Monster Ceilidh Band, or from her rather more decorous music with The Shee and Kathryn Tickell, you may not be surprised by the mix of rhythmic and melodic pieces on Solo. If on the other hand you are new to Amy Thatcher's talents, think of this album as an accordion fantasy, a body of compositions which take the folk idiom and extend it with all the possibilities of a conventional accordion: chords, harmonies, bass lines, rhythms and dynamics. It reminds me almost equally of Karen Tweed and Martin Green.

There are jaunty straight reels such as Sleep Spindles which could almost be part of the English traditional repertoire, blending into the curlicued variations of the slip-jig, Zakopane Christmas. There's the fugue-like Falling Near, two lines working against each other, and the hypnotic Study One, both turning the piano box into a church organ with deep resonances and remarkable delays. The sweetness of The Last Dance is an unexpected return to the delicate and graceful melodies of The Shee, similar to the earlier waltz, April's Child, while the first and last tracks lean more towards the brash energy of the Monster Ceilidh Band, bringing Solo full circle. All of this is produced by one accordion, with a touch of technomancy on the final Stomping Clogs. Full marks to Amy Thatcher for imagination and execution! Whatever will she think of next? 

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine