Summer Song

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This album compiles bits from two Swedish albums on the Caprice label. There are six years' difference between the two albums, but the material hangs together very well, as though it could have been cut at the same session. The presence of Willemark encourages a more even balance of folk songs to folk dances than is common in many groups working in the larger Swedish folk tradition. Although Willemark plays fiddle and whistle on this album, her vocals are what stand out and fuel a burning desire to hear more. Not only does her voice have a unique timbre, but she uses it in a versatile manner. Especially dazzling and unusual are her lockrops or kulning, a high-pitched vibratoless vocal technique which, like Alpine yodeling, was developed for communication in mountainous cow-herding regions. Willemark's voice can soothe as well as startle, and that's part of what makes her one of the most interesting vocalists recording in the world today. Since there are two fiddle players on this album, it is hard to figure out who's playing which line. One can be sure of Per Gudmundson's work playing the Swedish bagpipes, but unfortunately, the instrument only appears twice in this collection. On "Stiennur," a song written by Willemark, it is mostly an ethereal background. On "Jürven," written by Möller, it jigs and trills with a sound fans of early music will appreciate. The best measure of Möller's success in adapting the mandola for playing Swedish traditional music is the fact that this album does not make one think, "How interesting, Swedish music played with a mandola." The sound of the instrument really fits in and does a good job of supporting the fiddles when not itself the star of the show. One of the most unusual things about this album is the catchiness of many of the tunes, not always common in Swedish folk; many of the songs on this CD are instantly memorable even if you don't know the language. Though utterly acoustic, it does not lack for presence or energy. The fiddle style shares something with American fiddling in the strong double- and triple-stopping bow technique which calls one to dance. The melodies remain steadfastly Swedish, though. This is very soulful and moving music.

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