If there are any two individuals fully capable of capturing the vintage sounds of a traditional brocade, it would have to be the duo that consists of Allison De Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves. De Groot, a seasoned picker known for her fret work with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, The Goodbye Girls, and Nic Gareiss, has earned the praises of numerous contemporaries and has proven her mettle in a variety of well-studied settings. Hargreaves, a veteran fiddle player who has shared stages with Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Laurie Lewis, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, and Jake Blount, has acquired a sterling reputation as one of the leading lights of today’s new generation dedicated to reviving and preserving the sounds of old time Appalachia, particularly those of the old time variety.
Not surprisingly then, the two find plenty of common ground, and under the assured guidance of producer Phil Cook, they’ve created an album for the ages, recorded live and culling songs from a time-honored template, their own compositions and a handful of obscure offerings by old time composers. The result, Hurricane Clarice, from Free Dirt Records, is an appropriately sparse set consisting of nine songs, all shared duets featuring clawhammer banjo and fiddle finesse, which convey the archaic feel of field recordings circa early 20th century.
Consequently, these are decidedly sturdy songs, most of which vary in tempo and tone. The celebratory sounds of The Banks of the Miranichi draw a decided contrast to the pluck and strum of DeGroot’s original instrumental Wellington. The frenzied fiddle work of the 19th century square dance tune, Nancy Blevins, and the astute instrumental, Ostrich With Pearls, nicely complement the down-home draw of a Roy Acuff composition, Each Season Changes. The plodding yet plucky title track finds a fine fit with the pair’s upbeat harmonies of the closing track, The Road Walked By Fools. Likewise, I Would Not Live Always, which originated with a poem written approximately a hundred years ago and adapted for fiddle and vocal, still manages to provide contemporary credence.
Ultimately, despite the obscure origins of these songs, the entire set comes across as both moving and mesmerizing. Happy then, this Hurricane manages to blow at full force.