Oliver Schroer Hymns and Hers

While Schroer’s last album, Camino, was about his personal travels down the Camino de Santiago in Europe with nothing but his fiddle, recording equipment and some very old churches, this is by far even more personal. Diagnosed with leukaemia, which he still battles to this day, he was inspired to make this album. While that may imply this is a bit of a downbeat affair, Schroer’s fiddle and his many friends are actually quite vibrant and hopeful, which bodes well when one is fighting illness. Opener "A Song For All Seasons (The Prayerful Hymn)” is, well, very hymn-like in both its power and beauty. It also helps when you have powerful vocal sounds playing off of Schroer’s harmonic fiddle work. Indeed, the songs that have wordless vocals tend to stand out more as they drive home the hymn quality a bit more. Yet, there is still much to be said for Schroer’s beautiful instrumentals (see the great layers of "The World I Left Behind Me”) and his grand ear for big melodic experimentation. Beautiful, but never hopeless, this is a very intriguing journey. (Big Dog Music)