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TAILSWAY - Obsidian 

TAILSWAY - Obsidian 
Private Label TSWYCD01 

This is a delightful debut CD, from the bright opening set of tunes to the end-of-summer waltz that closes the CD. It was brought to life by Pernilla Bergman and her husband Johan Nordström, both from Pargas in Finland. Bergman is a fiddle player, vocalist and composer, and has fiddling traditions in her family dating back to the 18th century. Nordström plays bouzouki, keyboards and bass, as well as being a sound and recording engineer. They met in a band in 2010, and shortly thereafter started playing music, working on creating their own unique sound, combining their Scandinavian and Celtic influences.

Bergman is the main composer of the duo, and all but one piece is original (the only exception is a wonderful re-worked version of the classic, Morrison’s Jig). The tunes are full of beguiling Celtic melodic lines, along with the pulsating energy of Nordic traditions. They have titles that match their feel, like The Twister, Tricky Horse, Neverending Week and The Dancing Muffin. The playing has a confident maturity and it can shift rather seamlessly between musical emotions, even within a track (such as the transition from the gently soaring Graceland Waltz into the symphonic muscle of Obsidian Edge). There are three vocal tracks as well, including Broken Rails, with a definite Wild West feel (and inspired by an old computer game where the object was to get out of a small town).

Over the course of several years, they laid down the basic tracks, recording at home and at a cabin, and they layered over that with other effects, drones, percussion and harmonies. However, the fiddle continues to be the lead instrument and the tunes are clearly front-and-centre. Despite being a duo, the sound is full, and it is often hard to remember that there are only two of them. Bergman and Nordström keep referring to this as a “project”. Let’s hope it is far more than a one-off, but that Tailsway becomes an enduring part of the musical landscape of Finland. And beyond.

Ivan Emke


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine