Album Review / Amy Thatcher: Solo

When I was younger – a few years younger than now, that is – I was one of those people who thought Gary Larson really nailed it in one Far Side cartoon:

Kuvahaun tulos haulle the far side accordion hell

Let’s just say that things have changed for me since my all-rockin’ days (or daze). As I began to get into folk music a few years ago, I began, after a while, to hear instruments differently. Not just the violin and the flutes, pipes and whistles, but the accordion as well. And when I saw some masterful players live – Finnish, Irish and Scottish – I really started getting it. (Just this weekend I saw an amazing gig by the Estonian virtuoso Tuulikki Bartosik, but that’s another story)

So, with some humility I now listen to Amy Thatcher‘s (The Shee, The Monster Ceilidh Band) all-solo Solo, an album that features just the artist and her instrument for 33 minutes. And I like it; this is warm and varied music, with each tune coming across with its own personality.

There are very few rip-it-up moments but quite a few come packed with controlled, dynamic tension. Falling Near, for example, has a lovely melody that somehow carries something darker beneath and bursts out in rolling waves of sound in the end. The same sense of narrative is to be found on many of the albums pieces, a quality I enjoy very much.

And to those who think an accordion is only good for oom-pah, just listen to the tender articulation on April’s Child and Ian’s Favourite, or the intricate rhythmic tapestry of Resolution. You may just reconsider, and you really should.

And to us already enlightened ones: just enjoy 😊

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