Often times with fiddle-oriented recordings, the tunes tend to be a mix between new arrangements of standard pieces alongside original compositions. Sami Braman’s debut solo release, Riveter, relies on a completely original formula, with all ten tunes composed by Braman.
Sami, who began playing in the Pacific Northwest at the age of six, is steeped in old time fiddle stylings. This is evident from the first two tracks, Rogue River and Duck House. Braman’s supporting cast, which includes Jake Stargel on guitar, Frank Evans on banjo, and Emily Mann on bass, does a wonderful job all throughout the album. While solos are occasionally featured on the other instruments, the focus clearly remains on Sami and her fiddle.
The title track Riveter is Scandinavian influenced. This piece is one of several examples of how adventurous Braman is in her fiddling. It starts off in a real gentle pace, but picks up in tempo towards the end bringing great excitement to the listener.
Another example of Sami’s intrepid nature is Train In The Wilderness. The A part is filled with incredible double stops and harmonization. This is a tune that will more than likely catch the ear of any aspiring fiddler who is listening.
Barnimal is a fast and thrilling piece. This track in particular features stellar instrumental solos from both Frank Evans and Jake Stargel. It definitely falls into more of the bluegrass camp in terms of stylistic approach.
The Basement is largely rooted in the old time fiddle tradition. Inspired by the first few notes of Art Wooten’s Hornpipe, this is another piece with a gentle tempo and terrific melodic ideas from Braman.
The closing track, Weevils In The Grits, features the album’s producer, Brittany Haas on second fiddle. Haas and Braman’s twin fiddling is a great fit for this particular tune and makes for a really defined ending to the project.
Riveter not only displays Sami Braman’s phenomenal abilities as a fiddler, but also as a composer. There’s a complete sense of originality here that isn’t found very often on traditional fiddle recordings. While it’s obvious that Braman is grounded in old time music, her tunes don’t consist of recycled ideas. Sami has a keen sense of inventiveness and imagination in both her playing and composing, which can be found here in spades.