Ok, first things first here - why haven’t we heard of Nathan Gourley and Laura Fedderson before? Here we have two fabulously proficient fiddle players. As a duo they demand your attention and hold it for all of the 15 tracks on debut album Life Is All Checkered.
Having grown up in musical families in America’s mid-west and now residing in Boston MA, the pair have been playing concert halls, pubs and park benches for a good while but it’s only now that they’ve committed their undoubted talent to disc. Predominantly Irish in style, the pair take the traditional music of the Emerald Isle and run it through with an American heartbeat that is all their own.
15 tracks might sound like a lot to absorb in one go but the tunes are short, sharp and to the point! All 15 tracks are of the highest quality both in terms of tunes and the accomplishment of the musicians. Accompanied by Brian Miller on guitar as required, the pair hurtle through a multitude of jigs, reels and hornpipes with astonishing finesse and speed.
Only on Lament For O’Donnell does the pace slow. The tune is a beautiful slice of melancholy that evokes its Celtic roots whilst simultaneously being evocative of a sound that is unmistakably mid-western American. The pace doesn’t slow for long though as Lament For O’Donnell segues effortlessly into the mid-paced stomp of The Star Above The Garter.
It’s a beautifully uplifting record from start to finish and is released perfectly to coincide with the coming of Spring. If daffodils and blossom trees could play music this is exactly what it would sound like, and if you wanted to soundtrack the joy that comes with the clocks going forward you’d probably be hard pushed to find a better fit than Life Is All Checkered.
Right through to the closing gambit of the well-known hornpipe and reel combo of The Blackbird/The Road to Garrison, Gourley and Fedderson entertain with a charm and passion that is often missing from similar acts. The duo are a practically perfect pairing of musicians and have presented us with an equally perfect example of how the Irish musical tradition is interpreted in America.Rob Fearnley
Released January 1st 2015 as a self release
1. The Crib of Perches/Into the Woods/Johnny McGreevy’s (Reels)
2. The Bachelor/The Flogging Reel (Hornpipe/Reel)
3. Quinn’s/The Graf Spey (Reels)
4. Life is All Checkered/The Lark’s March (Jigs)
5. The Coalminers/The Trip to Nenagh/The Blocker (Reels)
6. Bundle and Go/My Mind Will Never be Easy (Jigs)
7. The Fairest Rose (Hornpipe)
8. The Old Wooden Bridge/Delia Crowley’s/The Heather Breeze (Reels)
9. Lament for O’Donnell/Star Above the Garter (Air/Slide)
10. The Heights of Muingbhathá/My Otis Thomas Mandolin/The Old Grey Gander (Reels)
11. Child of my Heart/The Blarney Pilgrim/Paddy O’Rafferty (Jigs)
12. The Cocktail/Bill McEvoy’s/The Blackberry Blossom (Reels)
13. Happy Days Again/Padraig O’Keeffe’s (Polkas)
14. Miss Patterson’s Slippers/The Berehaven (Reels)
15. The Blackbird/The Road to Garrison (Hornpipe, Reel)