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Squirrel Butter - Chestnuts (2015)
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Squirrel Butter - Chestnuts (2015)

20-10-2015, 13:05
Music | Folk | FLAC / APE

Squirrel Butter - Chestnuts (2015)

Artist: Squirrel Butter
Title Of Album: Chestnuts
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Self Released
Genre: Bluegrass, Folk
Quality: 320 / FLAC
Total Time: 52:08 min
Total Size: 121 / 288 MB
WebSite: Album Preview


01 Lost in the Woods (3:42)
02 New Boston Hornpipe (2:10)
03 Feed My Sheep (2:53)
04 Roggle Holler (2:41)
05 Cabin in the Pines (3:51)
06 Davenport (1:50)
07 Lonesome for You (3:23)
08 Mary & John (3:34)
09 Reuben (3:13)
10 Poor Girl's Story (3:25)
11 Cornstalk Fiddle & a Shoestring Bow (1:39)
12 Tennessee Dog (2:05)
13 I Declare (3:07)
14 Got a Little Home to Go To (2:14)
15 Rosewood Casket (3:06)
16 Far in the Mountain / Mississippi Sawyer (2:31)
17 Whole Heap of Horses (3:25)
18 Little Stream of Whiskey (3:19)

Squirrel Butter are the husband and wife duo of Charlie Beck on vocals, fiddle, steel guitar and banjo with Charmaine Slaven on vocals, fiddle, guitar, feet and square dance caller. As can be seen from that intro the couple have some fascinating strings to their bow that indicates they are immersed in the old timey music they play so well, to such a degree that there is the addition of dancing. In fact this duo is an offshoot of their full band The Tallboys, a four piece band, who play in a similar vein but with a fuller sound and are a band who have released six excellent full length albums so far this century, all of which are still available. Charlie Beck has also released a solo album but that is much more difficult to track down. This tremendous album is also, by my reckoning the duos third as Squirrel Butter. As can be seen from that little lot they are highly prolific when it comes to working in the studio but what is the quality like? All I can say is that on the strength of this and a couple of other albums of theirs I've heard their quality is quite astoundingly high, in fact this will be a contender for my album of the year and if I had heard those other couple of albums in their release year no doubt they would have been as well!

Their influences are relatively easy to ascertain, at least generically, and include old timey, country, blues and Cajun on this generous eighteen track album that clocks in at just under an hour. Not only huge quality but quantity as well. Everything is beautifully played and banjo driven with a generally sparse sound, with excellent solo and duet vocals from the duo. Charlie's banjo playing at times has to be heard to be believed, such is his dexterity and the occasional sound of Charmaine dancing adds great depth and authenticity to the recording, something that as far as recordings go, makes this couple pretty much unique. Add to this the fact that they are not bothered about keeping to one genre, often taking songs that are in other styles but putting their own individual stamp on them. Many of those traditional songs are obscure rather than safe selections that everyone knows, a necessity for anyone who wants to keep the old music alive

Most of the songs on the album are traditional and in the public domain but there are two songs written in their entirety by Charlie as well as an instrumental and one trad song of which Charmaine wrote the last two verses plus a song that the pair co-wrote. In itself this is evidence of how immersed they are in the old music, not being scared to alter and add as they see fit and those few self penned songs fit seamlessly into this 'old timey' album that could not really be bettered by anyone.

The album kicks off with the Charlie Beck original, Lost In The Woods, a banjo dominated song with Charlie's emotional lead vocal and Charmaine adding her lovely harmonies and acoustic guitar to a gorgeous slow, moody ballad. Feed My Sheep is a song that again is led by banjo and guitar but this time there is an excellent forceful and highly evocative lead vocal from Charmaine with Charlie on harmonies on this traditional old timey song. A powerful element of diversity is evident on Roggle Holler, a tremendous Charlie composed fiddle driven instrumental on which you can actually hear Charmaine dancing, something that adds further power to the song as it further stimulates the imagination. Reuben is a high tempo speedy song on which I'm guessing Charmaine has added some of her footwork to a tale that has Charlie on lead vocal and her on harmonies whilst on Tennessee Dog there is another excellent and ebullient Charmaine lead vocal on a tremendous traditional song that is led by banjo and edges towards an entertaining vaudevillian feel. Rosewood Casket is a sad mournful banjo led classic duet that echoes the highest quality and authenticity of the 1920s and 30s with the duo managing to pitch their mournful vocals at just the right level to portray the atmosphere of the originals. Finally on Little Stream of Whiskey they create an excellent version of another old timey song, led by banjo with Charlie on lead vocal and Charmaine harmonies, again creating a compelling old timey atmosphere.

It is always exciting to discover an artist or in this case artists that you were previously unaware of, especially when they have a decent sized back catalogue! From the quality of this tremendous duo album and what I've heard of their four piece work I really can't wait to get started on this almost peerless bands back catalogue. Purchase this album and you will, in all probability, have to join me on that back catalogue search!

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