Caliban is singer/mandolinist Lief Sorbye and fiddler Michael Mullen, both members of the progressive Celt-rock band Tempest. Caliban is their acoustic side project, one which focuses specifically on traditional material. Sorbye is a highly accomplished mandolin and bouzouki player, and he acquits himself beautifully on tunes like "Tipsy Sailor" and "The Open Door." Mullen is a fine fiddler as well, and an especially sensitive and tasteful accompanist. But Sorbye's singing is less enjoyable than his playing, and the stripped-down acoustic duo setting only makes his vocal limitations all the more obvious, especially on the lovely Norwegian ballad "Jeg Lagde Meg Sa Silde" and Richard Thompson's heartbreaking "Beeswing." He sounds better when there are more (and louder) musicians supporting his voice. This disc is by no means without its pleasures-it's just that most of them are instrumental.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson