Heaven and Earth is the second album by New England instrumental combo Childsplay, a collective of over two dozen fiddle players that's kind of like a musical version of Michael Flatley's massive Irish step-dancing performances. The group is nowhere near as embarrassingly naff as that sounds, luckily, but the comparison holds because the overall sound of Childsplay is so boldly, unapologetically massive. As noted above, there are more than 24 fiddlers credited on Heaven and Earth, and most of them are playing at any given time, giving an epic scope to a style of music that's usually considerably more low-key and intimate than that. Produced by Laura Risk, a Boston-based fiddler whose own work has ranged from accompaniment at traditional English country dances to a spell in the indie folk hybrid Cordelia's Dad, Heaven and Earth falls between those two poles in terms of its style: the 12 songs draw upon a variety of musical styles, from Scandinavian dance tunes to a sort of gypsy jazz, but the sound is rooted in English and Irish folk. Staunch traditionalists may blanch, but Heaven and Earth is an excellent example of how traditional folk music can move out of its comfort zone.
Heaven and Earth Review
by Stewart Mason