After Devil's Polka, a wonderful compilation of JPP's work to date, the band of Finnish fiddlers (plus standup bass and harmonium) faced a fork in the road -- a fork that many folkies have to confront: what do you do when you run out of folk tunes that are suitable for your style of playing, or when you start to outgrow your folk base and gravitate toward other styles of music, or when you just get bored with trad all the time? It's clear which road JPP has chosen. Formerly, about half of their numbers were traditional and most of the originals were composed to sound like traditionals. On this album, however, starting with its title track "Kaustinen Rhapsody," only about a quarter of their numbers are trad, and most of the originals are anything but Finnish folk. "Tango for Marsha" by Finnish-American Erik Hokkanen is just what it says; admittedly it is almost Finnish traditional, because in an antipodal paradox the Finns have long been wild about tango (and JPP has done a lot of them). "Texas Blues" is cheesy blues, the kind sailors sing in old movies. One original, "Valse Mysterioso (Mysterious Waltz)" is a wonderfully atmospheric tune that builds in complexity over a three-step meter. This and a few other tunes are like the older JPP and make this album worth buying, with reservations, for the traditionalist listener. For those who like their fiddle music to dart off in unexpected directions, though, Kaustinen Rhapsody will be a real treat.
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AllMusic Review by Kurt Keefner