April Verch

Steal the Blue

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On her fourth album, singer and fiddler April Verch seems to be slipping ever farther away from her Canadian roots. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- she's never been a regional purist, and more power to her -- but the more she starts sounding like Alison Krauss circa 1990 the more you may find you start missing those great crooked reel sets and step-dance tunes that she used to play like no one else. On the other hand, there's no denying the charms of her gossamer voice, the creamy vocal harmonies, and the straight-ahead country love songs (couched in bluegrassy arrangements) that are increasingly taking over. "Slip Away," the gorgeous gospel song "He's Holding on to Me," and the "she's leaving home" weeper "The Last Greyhound" are all undeniably lovely, and the few instrumental tracks are all winners as well: the progressive acoustic bluegrass of "My Friend Craig" and a sweet waltz titled "Independence, VA" are both excellent -- but the album's highlight is its final track, a wonderful set of Quebec reels ("Tadoussac" and "Lindbergh"). Here's hoping there's at least one such set on every album April Verch makes from here on out.

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