David Schnaufer

Delcimore

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AllMusic Review by

David Schnaufer has been on a mission for years to show that the Appalachian lap dulcimer is capable of much more than parlor turns on traditional folk melodies, and with Delcimore he's produced an album that both proves his point, and -- oddly enough -- weakens it. The variety here is impressive, with dulcimer takes on Charles Mingus ("Self Portrait in Three Colors"), Bach (Minuet in G), Hank Williams ("I Can't Help It [If I'm Still in Love With You]"), and Townes Van Zandt ("Waltz of the Waters"), as well as a three-part chamber composition featuring dulcimers backed by the Columbus Georgia Symphony. It's all very impressive, but the most powerful tracks here are actually the traditional Appalachian ones, including a delightful version of "Cold Frosty Morning," a beautiful rendition of "Wild Rose of the Mountain," and an amazing "Train on the Island" medley (here called "Train on the Mountain" and coupled with likeminded fiddle tunes "Barlow Knife" and "Sandy River Belle"), leading to the conclusion that, although the lap dulcimer is indeed more versatile than we might have thought, it still works best in the familiar folk setting. This doesn't diminish Delcimore as an album -- it works wonderfully and is an energetic, chiming masterpiece -- but it is still somewhat comforting to find that the lap dulcimer's sweet spot is right where we thought it was all along.

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