Frank Ferrel

Yankee Dreams: Wicked Good Fiddling from New England

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The fun thing about New England fiddling is that it draws on so many different traditions; you're likely to hear a set of Irish reels followed immediately by a Quebecois waltz, then a clutch of Appalachian tunes and a little something from the Prince Edward Island. And although there's a certain inflection that usually identifies a New England fiddler, those various influences aren't usually fully digested; instead, a fiddler from that area usually just sounds very, very eclectic and proficient. That's certainly the case with Frank Ferrel, who turns in a wild assortment of tunes and traditions on this album, ranging from Celtic standards like "Give the Fiddler a Dram" and "Bantry Bay" to gems from Cape Breton ("Angus Chisholm's Irish Hornpipe") and American dancehall favorites ("Arthur Finley," "Done Gone"). Ferrel plays in a relatively conservative style, with little flash or excess, and at modest tempos that are clearly designed more for dancing than for passive, abstract enjoyment. The rather echoey acoustic is an interesting production choice, one that occasionally distracts from the music, but Ferrel's rhythmic momentum and taste in tunes are irresistible. Recommended.

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