Anna Schaad

The Raven Project

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Although she hails from America's Great Northwest, violist/violinist Anna Schaad usually gives the impression of being a traditional musician from Scotland or Ireland (or, at very least, from the other side of the North American continent, say, Newfoundland) on her self-released debut album, The Raven Project. Her tunes are nearly all originals that she composed, sometimes with her close musical partner, the multi-instrumentalist David MacVittie, but their roots tend to lie in traditional Celtic music. That she is not a traditional Celtic musician, however, is easily apparent, first because of her choice of primary instrument, an electric five-string viola she named Wicked Grace. She gets a wider range of sounds out of it than a regular viola or violin could provide, and that helps her in her other neo-traditional ambition, which is to incorporate elements of other musical styles. Often joined by MacVittie, whose basic instrument is the guitar, sometimes played with a slide, but who also plays the bouzouki, Schaad introduces suggestions of folk, rock, jazz, and blues. "Alligator Margarita," for example, is reminiscent of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" in places, while "Tribute to Sugarcane Harris" is an appropriate title for a musician who anticipated some of Schaad's style, and "Anthem for Electric Viola" evokes nothing less than the sound of Jimi Hendrix (also from the Great Northwest, as it happens). Needless to say, this is not your father's Celtic music album.