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Curio Music CMNZ1801 

Across The Great Divide is a New Zealand based duo of Karen Jones (harp and songs) and dobro player Tony Burt. This album is indeed a fine blend of traditional tunes and songs played on the unusual combination of Celtic harp and dobro. It claims to be a fusion of Celtic and Americana and it delivers empathetic arrangements of well-known tunes and songs augmented with fiddle, bass, guitar and saxophone contributions from Mike Vass and others.

On first hearing it is a pleasant, easy on the ear album of mostly familiar tunes like Raglan Road and Music For A Found Harmonium, but on further hearing the instrumentation is effective and musically pleasing. Much original music penned by Tony is also included. Circle Of Friends is a tune with a strong A part but a much more expressively open B part. Happy McHapie is a more familiar style of laid-back dobro leading into First February, with sax and fiddle added to the harp and dobro arrangement. The traditional air, Aran Boat, is more conventional in its conception with fiddle again added to harp and dobro. Similarly in the piping air, The Sleeping Tune, harp, piano and sax evoke a lovely musical imagery. Karen sings lovely versions of David Francie’s ballad, Saints And Sinners, and an old original setting of Auld Lang Syne - both tracks beautifully arranged. The album closes with a short fast-paced dobro tune, Holly Cut The Horse Hair, again composed by Tony.

With more than a nod to the feel of the Transatlantic Sessions, I liked the album and recommend it to all you dobro fans especially.

Gerry Jones

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.