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Kieran Towers & Charlotte Carrivick Kieran Towers & Charlotte Carrivick
Album: Wolves A'Howlin'
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

Charlotte Carrivick is a name that will be familiar to many from her work with both the Carrivick Sisters and Cardboard Fox. Her latest project sees her team up with fiddle player Kieran Towers to produce an exciting modern take on the Appalachian string band tradition.

The first surprising thing is it's an instrumental album. Both musicians are exceptional musicians but Charlotte has such a beautiful voice I had just expected there to be a mix. It's not a disappointment though because every track is a winner. The opening track Best Timber is an instant impact driving tune by Harry Jones with guitar accompaniment. The subtle changes in the tune each time through are mirrored perfectly in the accompaniment, showing a real understanding within the partnership. A change of pace follows in Booth by Marcus Martin, with a switch to banjo for Charlotte. The more percussive quality of the banjo suits the tune well, the lower, mellower pitch balancing against the brighter tone of the fiddle. The pair switch roles for the opening of Polly Put the Kettle On with a fiddle drone underneath the banjo tune.

Alongside tunes from American greats are three original tunes, two from Kieran and one a joint composition. The first, I Thought You Were a Goat #3 is a great tune with a lovely groove to the rhythm. Accompanied again by banjo, the intricate banjo line flows really nicely underneath the more chordal tune. I Wash Myself With a Rag On a Stick is a more driving style of tune, again banjo accompanied. New Carpet is the joint composition. The tonality of the tune is interesting, more modal then major or minor in comparison with the rest of the album. From here the album powers through a series of cracking tunes, the note filled virtuosity of Poplar Bluff and Tennessee Mountain Fox Chase, alongside the more swinging Muddy Creek.

The tune that stands out as unusual in Sally Coming Through the Rye. Using the lower register of the fiddle, alongside the predominantly minor tonality, creates a very different and more expansive feel. A personal favourite is the Tommy Jarrell tune Rockingham Cindy, another great showcase for Charlotte's stunning banjo playing.

This is a great album from start to finish, each track a beautifully balanced showcase for the phenomenal musicianship of this duo. A nice touch is including the tunings Charlotte has used, encouraging people to learn and share these tunes. I have a feeling these two will be gracing more than a few festival line-ups next year so will be well worth getting along to.

Nicky Grant