Thursday, September 22, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE BOMBADILS - NEW SHOES
The duo of Luke Fraser and Sarah Frank approach folk music from a different perspective, both coming out of the classical music world. Fraser's an East Coaster, growing up near Halifax, while Frank's from Edmonton, and both arrived at McGill to study classical. She's violin, he's guitar, and serious studies gave way to live playing in Montreal clubs, where anything could happen, folk and jazz often on the menu.
That's the atmosphere the duo continues to bring to their highly-regarded shows and recordings, featuring folk tunes done with musical adventure and sophistication, and no shortage of friends with different talents broadening the experience. Flutes and pipes and accordion and a bass clarinet are all on call, plus many others. You could consider the arrangement to be the star of each song, except of course for all the instrumental expertise, fabulous vocal work from the pair, and strong compositions. The version of Doc and Rosa Lee Watson's Long Journey is achingly beautiful, with two voices in harmony and guitar and fiddle on a seemingly ancient melody giving way to a grand string arrangement which could only come from the classical side. Frank's Blankets has a modern bass line, flute and fiddle playing in gorgeous harmony, and mandolin plucked like a harp.
Of course, while I'm listening to moments like that, somebody else could be thinking 'What lovely singers, don't they sound good together?' And they would be completely right. Listening to the incredible new harmonies they found for Wild Mountain Thyme should become required listening in Canadian folk circles.