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Private Label FR2010

A name to conjure with indeed: Lissa Schneckenburger is a musician from New England, and this is the second in a pair of traditional albums: the first was called Song, and I can't comment on it, but Dance shows Lissa to be a fine fiddler with a smooth easy-listening style. Her repertoire here includes Petronella, Huntsman's Chorus, Fisher's Hornpipe, Moneymusk, Jimmy Allen and the like - very well-known Scottish and English dance tunes - and some more unusual melodies at least to European ears. Suffer the Child, by Greg Boardman, is a cracking reel which Ms Schneckenburger pairs with The Lamplighter's Hornpipe at a fearsome pace. The Mountain Ranger and David Kaynor's composition Nancy King are likeable New England reels, not too challenging but very pleasant. All ten tracks come with brief contra-dance instructions in the sleeve notes, although not all would suit most dancers, even allowing for intros and outros.

The blurb states boldly that some of these tunes "are often called Chestnuts, a nostalgic reference to the tree that was once common in the northeast." I looked up "Chestnut" in Brewer's Dictionary: it refers to "a stale joke", something which has been heard many times before and has lost its impact, which is the meaning I had in mind. You might feel this is an appropriate description for some of the tracks on Dance, but certainly not all: there's a jaunty version of Lady Walpole's Reel, as well as a pair of striking jigs in Jefferson and Liberty and Bert Ferguson. Lissa also rings the changes in instrumentation: touches of banjo, accordion, second fiddle, and even trombone on top of the guitar and bass accompaniment that's pretty much obligatory in New England. No piano, surprisingly, which is fine by me! A charming album, lovely tone throughout, perhaps a little staid but easy on the ear, with a few new tunes for most of us: take a peek at, and check out her previous half-dozen CDs too.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 86 of The Living Tradition magazine.