'American Hornpipe'(June 28, 2012)
Whether it was Robin Hood or the 18th century English Prime Minister Robert Walpole that provides the title character for the poem ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ hardly matters when, in this case it’s the musical production that counts. Just witness the infectious rhythm provided by River Guerguerian and Dana Robinson’s ‘bluesy’ mandolin complemented by Susan Robinson’s vocals on 'American Hornpipe', which by anyone’s standards is a fine performance.
Having said that, unfortunately from a critic’s (and possibly general public’s) point of view I couldn’t get one hundred percent behind this album. Perhaps it’s just me but after the opening song I was left scanning the track listing for something more substantial and perhaps wrongly a bit more ‘commercial’. OK, so these two ‘Old Time’ styled talented musicians do provide gems including the effortlessly sweet toned instrumental ‘American Hornpipe’ and an enjoyable version of Pete Sutherland’s interpretation of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken?’ but to me everything hinges on that opening track.
Now (hopefully) without sounding too controversial it must be difficult trying to please everyone (or at least a majority of your potential audience) but sometimes it takes a monumental leap of faith to go with your ‘gut’ instinct and provide something which, let’s face it may not be your choice personally. Walking that delicate tightrope of do we aim an album at the ‘folk music’ market or encompass the wider, now more widely accepted ‘acoustic’ market is down to the artist’s preferences but for me personally I’d have chosen the latter.
I know how difficult it is to eke a living professionally but going the whole hog with a full band sound on record can prove advantageous to the artist (and listener) and of course from that point you can always go back to the performer’s earlier recordings if you so wish. ‘American Hornpipe’ is available on Threshold Music TM 1012.
Reviewer: Pete Fyfe