THE FARWELLS: DEBRA CLIFFORD AND BECCA WINTLE

FARWELLSTHE FARWELLS: DEBRA CLIFFORD AND BECCA WINTLE

Tin Halo
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Debra Clifford is known as half of the Lonesome Sisters and as a member of Old Buck. She met Becca Wintle in the U.K., though Wintle had already immersed herself in American old-time music. They both sing lead and harmony and play guitar. Wintle also plays fiddle. Clifford plays mandolin and banjo. June Drucker plays bass. All but one of the thirteen cuts on their debut CD are marked “traditional,” though Wintle wrote a verse to the a capella “Love’s Worse Than Sickness.” “That Train,” which closes the CD, is written by Clifford. Clifford also rearranged and rewrote “Pretty Little Saro.” Wintle plays three fiddle tunes: “High Up On Tug” and “Biddy” from Edden Hammons, and “Pretty Little Indian” from Ward Jarvis. The remaining ten songs are lovely duets beginning with “Look Up, Look Down That Lonesome Road.”

Their harmonies are a bit like fiddle double-stops with well-matched and versatile voices suggesting chords, mostly subtle but occasionally dramatic. The arrangements are sparse to allow those pure and haunting voices to emerge. “Sugar Baby” has only a clawhammer banjo. “Motherless Children,” “That Train,” and “Hang Me” are backed up by guitar and fiddle. “Little Sadie” has banjo and guitar. The mandolin joins the guitar in “Green Pastures.” Wintle’s fiddling is lovely, relaxed, and smoothly sinuous, whether solo on “High Up On Tug,” with guitar backup on “Pretty Little Indian” or as a duet with banjo on “Biddle.” I’d like to hear more of it and more of The Farwells. If you like beautifully crafted old-time music, I predict that you will, too. (The Farwells, P.O. Box 65, Greenfield, MA 01301, www.thefarwells.band.)SAG

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