“This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.”
SARAH-JANE SUMMERS & JUHANI SILVOLA – Widdershins
Dell Daisy Records DELL006
A real cultural mix produces the goods here in this thoroughly likeable album. Widdershins is Highland Scots for anti-clockwise, or against the norm, and that is what is served up here. The combination of Inverness’ Sarah-Jane’s Scots-inflected fiddle and the virtuosic guitar of the Finnish Juhani Silvola is an exciting one. They live and play in Norway and must sound rather exotic there as well.
Most readers of this magazine will probably come at this via the fiddle, which has echoes of Shetland about it. At first glance, you might expect it to be the lead instrument, with the guitar getting second billing as an accompaniment. It is not, however, as simple as that. Juhani’s guitar is played with such attack and such imagination that it often seems to be straining to take centre stage. The result is, as the sleevenotes claim, “Virtuosic and innovative with a dark Nordic edge” – something that will chime with the current popularity of Scandinavian drama, perhaps.
This is not music, though, which hangs around admiring its own credentials. The other description that fits it very well is “powerhouse”. The 11 tracks were recorded live, in the same room, and were left completely unedited. Hence the infectious spontaneity achieved on tracks like Juhani’s Silver Spring Reel and Sarah Jane’s Spike On A Bike. There are times on those numbers (and on others) when Silvola, in particular, sounds destined to inflict terminal damage on his instrument. Happily, we all come out safely at the other side.
This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.
This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.