Thursday, November 6, 2014

Brendan Taaffe & The New Line's African Reimagining of Irish & Appalachian Tunes - Can't Hold the Wheel

Zimbabwean mbiras
For the past week, I have not been able to stop listing to Brendan Taaffe & The New Line's new release Can't Hold the Wheel. Taaffe has taken traditional folk songs and rearranged them with a blend of African rhythms many by using the Zimbabwean mbira. This instrument is a series of tuned metal keys fixed to a resonator. Taaffe currently resides in Vermont and has assembled a very talented cast of New England roots musicians for The New Line consisting of Adam Hurt on gourd banjo, Stefan Amidon on percussion and vocals, Colin McCaffrey on electric guitar and bass, Mike Olson on trumpet, and Heather Masse on vocals. Masse's vocals on Doc Watson's Red Rocking Chair and harmonies in The Old Churchyard and Goodnight Irene are sweet. Olson's trumpet in Nobody 'Cept You is like a lulliby and I think Hurt's soft banjo throughout helps blend the African rhythms to American folk. Fall On My Knees, Red Rocking Chair, and Train on the Island are my favorite tracks. For folk lovers, you will enjoy this release. Pair with and enjoy the live music at Brattleboro Vermont's Whetstone Station Brewery. Cheers.

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