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Bendigedig BEND15 

Rowan and Anna Rheingans are fiddlers and singers from the Peak District. Rowan is well-known as part of the trio Lady Maisery. She has also worked with Nancy Kerr, Eliza Carthy and Karine Polwart.  Anna lives and works as a fiddle player in Toulouse and is drawn to southern French folk music.

Receiver is their fourth album and moves into concept album territory, with a beautiful, elaborate booklet/sleeve/box that brings the Rheingans’ music together with the visual art of Pierre-Olivier Boulant. It is an eclectic collection of songs and tunes. There’s some bluegrass vibes in One More Banjo and a pulsating, Easter-sounding feel to After The Bell Rang, which sounds like a Lal Waterson song… and that’s a compliment in my book.

There are some lovely Norwegian influences, including a traditional Norwegian tune which the Rheingans have named after the town where they first heard it, Östbjörka. It starts with an eerie, scratchy fiddle intro that morphs into a meandering, clearly-not-British fiddle tune that does several things that you are not expecting! It’s oddly ‘catchy’ nonetheless – rather like a modal English folk tune that sounds weird initially and then sticks in your neurones like a barb.

This CD is meticulous in its construction, concept and execution. You will not, I think, find yourself wanting to sing along, but it will transport you with its mix of tunes, off-beat songs and Western ‘ragas’. It’s not ‘easy listening’, but it is arresting, occasionally hypnotic and often thought-provoking. I love it.

Alan Murray


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine