Published Jun 25, 2015Fiddle & Banjo, Karrnnel Sawitsky and Daniel Koulack's duo project, treads some very well worn traditional territory, but its charm lies in the combination of fiddle tunes from Canada with those of the Southern U.S., as well as some original material.
Sawitsky (fiddle) and Koulack (clawhammer banjo), both from the Prairies, deliver great performances on this album, especially on the instrumental tracks, many of which are well-arranged medleys of traditional tunes. Guest vocalist (and dobro player) Joey Landreth sings on roughly half the album, and his soulful voice brings a unique take to songs that are often sung quite differently. This contrast works very well on "Little Birdie," arguably the best track on the album, and on "Groundhog," where the soft arrangement is almost an ironic approach to a usually rowdy number.
On the other songs Landreth sings, the fiddle and banjo aren't prominent enough, and seem like more of an afterthought than the centrepiece of the album. They're great, but they probably belong on a Joey Landreth solo album, rather than on Sawitsky and Koulack's duo project.
Still, with any luck, Tunes from the North, Songs from the South will convince more old time fiddle and banjo players to look beyond Appalachia for their material. It's about time we started hearing "Old French" and other great Canadian fiddle numbers making the rounds. (Independent)