Alberta native Miles Zurawell is a multi-instrumentalist and composer of instrumental acoustic music. Now making his home in British Columbia, Canada, his debut album Far Afield is a diverse collection of tunes within the modern and traditional canon.
The opening medley, Battle of Cedar Creek/Sandy River Belle is rooted within old-time tradition. Featuring Zurawell on resonator guitar, this track includes the core cast of players on this project, which consist of producer Trent Freeman on fiddle, John Reischman on mandolin, Eli West on guitar, and Robert Alan Mackie on bass.
The title track, Far Afield, is the first of several instrumentals on this project composed by Miles. This tune definitely falls into more of the contemporary camp as evidenced by the melody and Zurawell’s performance on this piece.
Follow the Boot demonstrates Zurawell’s ability on the banjo. This is one of those tunes where Miles and Trent Freeman play off of each other particularly well.
The strongest point of this recording is the variety, in terms of style and instrumentation. Elk River Blues by Ernie Carpenter features just resonator guitar and bass. It’s a beautiful tune that truly allows Zurawell to shine on his instrument. Protestant Creature is another strong showcase of Miles’ technical ability.
Skating on the Harbourfront by Chris Coole is another old-time tune that features excellent clawhammer banjo playing from Eli West.
Another unique arrangement is End of the World. Though it’s been played by many resonator guitarists since Bashful Brother Oswald recorded his iconic version, Zurawell’s take on this tune is completely fresh. Played with a western swing feel, this tune features stellar solos from Miles along with Freeman, West, and Mackie.
Reel du Foregeron/Reel du Poteau Blanc is a medley combining ideas from both Canadian and Celtic music, which is most prominently heard in Miles’ banjo playing on this track. It again features Trent Freeman on fiddle as well as Adam Iredale-Gray on guitar.
The album closes with Rock Me in a Cradle of Kalua. Rooted in Hawaiian tradition, this takes us to the origins of the resonator guitar. It’s a beautiful way to end this recording.
Miles Zurawell is a renaissance man, both as an instrumentalist and composer. With a wide variety of styles and creative ideas, Miles is a force of nature, and we can only wait with anticipation for what is to come.