A co-release of
Rough House Records
518 Elm Ave
Selkirk, NY 12158 and
Sleeping Giant Records
77 Newton St
Fredonia, NY 14063
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Marie Eaton
Cloudsplitter, a collaborative effort between solo performers Peggy Eyres and Dan Berggren, is as much a treasure trove of stories as it is a lovely collection of nicely harmonized songs. There's a satisfying simplicity in Cloudsplitter, starting with the uncomplicated opening notes on the guitar and hammered dulcimer. To my ears, this project is a refreshing change from the recent batch of often excessively introspective and over-produced singer-songwriter albums.
Eyres and Berggren draw the inspiration for their songs from the Adirondack Mountains they love and the history of the people who live in that region. Dan and Peggy have strong, clear voices which weave together in satisfying harmony. The songs featured are all original, yet some have a flavor of the traditional music of those other mountains -- the Appalachians. The album will appeal to those who like their songs with singable choruses and stories worth telling.
Although a wide variety of traditional folk instruments are represented on this album, including banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, fiddle, and harp, Peggy and Dan avoided letting the instruments compete with their strong lyrics and delightful harmonies. The result is a rich tapestry of songs presented with just enough instrumentation and harmony to support the songs.
I've never been to the Adirondacks, but through this album, I have become acquainted with the landscape, met some interesting people, and learned some of the traditions of this area. As the liner notes indicate, the title refers to "...the mountains that cleave the sky or to those we look up to who point the way to truth." In Mary Brown, Abolitionist, Peggy recounts the untold contributions of John Brown's wife to the freeing of the slaves. In the Big Beams Dan celebrates the unnamed women and men who built barns capable of standing through decades of harvest and the strength they passed on to their decedents. Peggy and Dan have piqued my interest, and I may plan to go tramping in the Adirondacks on my next holiday. If I do, I'll take this album along.
Edited by Kerry Dexter