Harmonious Wail is a foursome with more than just a little of the gypsy running through its collective blood. Nonchalant is a tad deceptive titularly because it connotes a blase attitude that just doesn't exist here, the band a marrow-deep serious outfit but with the ceaseless air of graceful ease even when swingin' to beat the band (hm, I may have to reconsider that cliché in my music scribings). Not only does it vivaciously honor the Euro-Balkan past in covering Django Reinhardt and traditionals extensively but also the progression of those days in the work of Louis Jordan on up to the Tin Pan Alley / Great American songbook and even Chick Corea and the Beatles...aaaaaand a cut by Marianne Price (Hot Lickette)! More, when you hear Maggie DeLaney-Potthoff sing, you'll know why Hoagy Carmichael titled his song Skylark; he never knew her, but he was thinking of her.
Maggie's hubby Sims is the group's mandolin and tenor guitar player as well as secondary vocalist, and that omnipresence of mando is signature of the era the ensemble bases in but also of their own trademark sound. Ed Fila supplies 6 and 12 string guitars in exactly the way you'd hope, tracking Sims and playing off his licks and each song's improv opportunities. The two trade chops back and forth, then back out for Henry Boehm to trot a resonant contrabass in, dragging the bottom end up for better inspection, the phat foundation upon which everyone else cakewalks. Some cuts are instrumentals, others sung, but none wavers in that bouncy element except for the short but lovely recitation of Here, There, and Everywhere.
Of course, complementary modes are brought in, such as in Bossa Dorado which isn't only bossa nova but also a bit of bolero and flamenco as well. Hardly matters, though, as everything here is so damn well played and lovingly crafted that it could be a compendium of funeral dirges, and you'd still be up on your feet, dancing, or laying back and regarding the stars, dreaming…but mostly dancing.
This is one of four reviews of Harmonious Wail releases. For the remainder, see here, here, and here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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