Known as a Canadian fiddler and step dancer, Verch puts another foot forward here on a program of tunes predominately from the south of the Canadian border. The title cut is an introspective original piece that features Cody Walter’s fine clawhammer banjo and Verch’s direct vocal. It achieves a pensive start to a varied and rich recording. A nice mix of originals and currently popular old-time tunes populate this outing.
Verch ranges from bluegrass songs in old-time settings to a novelty number that could easily have come from some Nashville session of forty years ago. Primarily, we are treated to great fiddling with only a hint of her Canadian roots. The one tune that does not work here is “Farewell To Trion,” a lament of sorts that is treated with energetic bowing that recasts the tune to a whole new feel. While not a bad piece of music in the medley as it stands, it has lost the pathos that is part of the tune as it is held in tradition. Per the Fiddler’s Companion on the web: “Joe Blalock (b.1854) composed it upon returning to Alabama after getting laid off from a mill in Trion, Georgia. James Bryan added a third part to the tune.” They also note: “(It is) played slower than the usual breakdown tempo.” Her readings of Clyde Davenport’s “Five Miles To Town” and medleys of great tunes old and new such as “Parker Brown”/“Possum Run” and long “Long Harbor,” a very nice duet with fiddler Rayna Gellert, are outstanding. Her medley of Canadian and American versions of “Durang’s Hornpipe” is enlightening and fun. In fact, most of this recording is great. The novelty of “Moonshine Mac” may grow thin upon repeated listening, but most of the material holds up well and grows on you with each listen.
Ms. Verch is taking her music in new and interesting directions. Here, bandmembers Cody Walters and Clay Ross play with an accomplished finesse that allows them to go with the material and add touches that make the material come to life. Ross’s guitar will hold its own with the hotshot pickers in mainstream bluegrass. Walters has a fine touch on the banjo and is a masterful bassist. Add to this core the likes of Bobby Hicks, Bob Carlin, Riley Baugus, Kyle Dean Smith and Dirk Powell, to name a few, this is a talent bonanza of very good music. (www.aprilverch.com) RCB