Ellen Carlson is a New Hampshire fiddler with a strong grasp on several genres. Her major influences include Vassar Clements and Pete Southerland. Hints or more of both of these fiddlers show up in her playing. She has also absorbed much from other fiddlers she has met and played with. The tunes are as varied as the styles she plays. We hear bluegrass, swing, folk, old-time, and just darn good acoustic music. She sings as well as she fiddles.
The opening cut (an original) “Cold Winters” celebrates nearly half the year in that frigid clime. It’s a great tune and a lot of fun as a song. From there, she moves through one of the most wonderfully outrageous readings of “Ragtime Annie,” an old favorite that all too often limps along, but here it is a rollicking, rambunctious romp. There are a couple of swing numbers including another original, “The Gal With The Boots From Colorado.” As one might expect, there are some great northern tunes and a great jam on “Forked Deer,” with several fiddles all running together, then apart, then back together again in a wonderful aural collage.
The songs are all top-shelf. “Too Much” from Guy Clark, “Across The Great Divide” from the late Kate Wolf, and a nice original “I Hope For You” that Carlson wrote for her nieces and nephews. This is a fine recording of varied music that grows on the listener with each listening and is recommended to folks who like great fiddle, well-sung top-quality songs, and want something different out of life. (Ellen Carlson, P.O. Box 62, Lochmere, NH 03252, www.ellencarlson.com.)RCB