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HANNAH READ & MICHAEL STARKEY - Cross The Rolling Water 

HANNAH READ & MICHAEL STARKEY - Cross The Rolling Water 
Hudson Records HUD028CD 

This album is the culmination of a lockdown coming together of the fiddle and banjo pair who met at an Appalachian old time session in Edinburgh in late 2019. They recorded in December 2020 with Andy Bell (Hudson Records) producing, and the playlist ranges from traditional old time tunes to self-composed tunes and songs. The opening track, Apple Blossom, sets the bar high with rising tempo, and impressive fiddle from Hannah accompanied by Michael’s sympathetic claw hammer banjo. The traditional tunes sprinkled through the album continue in this wonderful, stylistic vein of old time and string band arrangements, accentuated by the easy synergy and inventive playing of two musicians in perfect sync. The duo’s own compositions, Blue River and Leonard’s Blues (Michael) and Waltz De La Funguy (Hannah), blend seamlessly with the older music, displaying their intimate and inventive musicianship.

Hannah’s rich singing brings an added dimension on Anaïs Mitchell’s haunting Shenandoah and Ready For The Times To Get Better (via Doc Watson) with the former also reprised as a beautiful instrumental track. The simple yet sumptuous production and mixing maintains the authenticity and richness of this music, arranged and played beautifully by two consummate acoustic musicians.

Old time music followers will recognise the subtle nuances and creativity at play here. If you are relatively new to the genre then this is great introduction from two people immersed in its roots.

Gerry Jones


This review appeared in Issue 145 of The Living Tradition magazine