Fiddle & Banjo – Tunes From The North, Songs From The South

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Canadian roots duo Karrnnel Sawitsky and Daniel Koulack chose a
simple and straightforward name, Fiddle & Banjo. The duo delights in
the deeply subtle interplay between their two chosen instruments. On
their new album, Tunes From The North, Songs From The South,
their goal is to unite the instrumental dance music of the Canadian
North that they’ve known all their lives with the songs and tunes of the
American South from which they’ve drawn so much inspiration. Fiddler
Karrnnel Sawitsky grew up immersed in Canadian old-time fiddling. Banjo
player Daniel Koulack came to Winnipeg at 3 years old in 1968, and over
the years has come to be known as one of the best claw-hammer banjo
players in Cananda. The two met at a jam session at a Canadian folk
music camp and found a likeness in how they approached the roots music
they loved.

Tunes From The North, Songs From The South
is Fiddle & Banjo’s second album together. Their instrumentation is
accompanied by the vocals of Canadian folk singer Joey Landreth of The
Bros. Landreth. The expert instrumentation combined with Landreth’s
vocals make for an excellent roots album.

The album opens with an instrumental piece featuring a frolicking
banjo and a soft fiddle. “Goofing Off Theme” is a peaceful little
number, one that’s just downright enjoyable to listen to. 8 tracks out
of the 13 tracks on this record are instrumental. “Lullaby” sounds
exactly how you’d expect a track called “Lullaby” to sound like. It’s
soft and peaceful, a sweet little tune that barely exists, silence being
the main sound on the track. I personally like it.

“Woodchuck Set” features an energetic fiddle with the banjo (cough
cough) playing second fiddle in the instrumentation lineup. The fiddle
and the banjo dance together in beautiful harmony on “Waltz Of Life”.
The track is a sweet, slow waltz. Another subtle, quiet track on the
album is “Rubin”. This duo are experts at crafting instrumental tunes!
You find yourself filled with happiness and peace when listening.
“Traditional Tune” is a track you’ll be tapping your foot along to,
featuring energetic instrumentation. “Sally In The Garden” has a Celtic
feel to it, and there’s a mournful/melancholy mood to it. Another
energetic song, and one that’s easy on the ears, is “The Old French
Set”.

Along with the instrumental tracks on the record, there are also 5
tracks featuring vocals by Joey Landreth. “Little Birdie” is the first
track on the album that Landreth lends his soulful vocals to, a
rollicking tune that excites the ears and engages the mind. It’s an
interesting track because it’s put together differently, the choruses
aren’t where you’d expect them to be. Another track that you’ll find
yourself tapping your foot along to is the traditional folk tune,
“Groundhog”. This is my new favorite version of this track. The song
celebrates the groundhog – hunting and eating it. Fiddle & Banjo’s
version is more subtle than the others that I’ve heard, easier and
softer on the ears.

“Red Rocking Chair” is another new favorite version of a traditional
song. The track starts out with a subtle banjo and Landreth’s vocals,
then picks up tempo, adding the fiddle and a female vocal to harmonize
with Landreth’s lead. By far the most soulful track on the album,
“Killin’ Floor” is an excellent tune. The banjo and fiddle adds soul to
the already soulful vocals by Landreth. The record closes out with the
soft, soulful “How Does A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live”. It’s a
track that addresses the struggles of living as a poor man and the cost
of living. It’s a nice way to close out a beautiful album.

Overall, this album is a superb roots/folk album. The expert
instrumentation is absolutely stunning and stellar, and definitely the
main focus of the record. Joey Landreth’s vocals adds soul, texture, and
character to the 5 lyrical tracks on the album. I’d recommend this
record to anyone looking for great roots music, instrumentals, or just
excellent music. Trust me, you’ll want to take a listen!

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