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RootBeat Records RBRCD25

Hannah James, accordionist extraordinaire, previously part of the excellent Kerfuffle and now the stunning Lady Maisery, meets with Estonian/Swedish musician Tuulikki Bartosik. Both are known for their interpretations of traditional music as singers and as masters of the boxes referred to in the title Chatterbox - in fact their instruments certainly do the talking.

This is not an album of jigs and reels, but one of new compositions and improvisation, with both accordions intertwining naturally and seemingly effortlessly. This is music that defies description; at times haunting, at times skipping along, at times beautiful, but at all times captivating. It is music which needs playing and repeating, as there is something new around every corner.

Quite literally ‘running’ through the CD is an improvised soundscape called Cave - four pieces recorded deep underground in the Welsh hills by producer Dylan Fowler. I know this is not original - Seth Lakeland did it in a mine - but it’s the running water flowing in the cave, echoed by the two instruments in the hands of Hannah and Tuulikki, which make this special. The subtitle for each of these four pieces also show the sense of fun had during the recording.

I hope there are plans to tour Chatterbox, but in the meantime there’s plenty to enjoy on the CD and I hope this leads to another collaboration by these very talented musicians.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.