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April Verch
Steal the Blue

Review By Steven Stone
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  April Verch's voice has the sonic qualities of a naked clarinet reed it cuts though like a hot poker applied to an old piece of newspaper. Fans of traditional country music will feel right at home with her Dolly Parton-like timbre, but modern country fans may not be quite as enamored by her old-style tone.  Although her vocals may be polarizing, everyone will fall in love with Verch's fiddling. Her style, technique and sheer virtuosity rivals anyone who's ever held a bow.

Like many great fiddlers, April Verch was a child prodigy. By her tenth birthday she was already winning local Canadian fiddle contests. Before she graduated from high school she had two solo albums of fiddle tunes under her belt. After high school Verch attended Boston's Berklee School of Music and during her only year at college Verch won both the Canadian Grad Masters Fiddle Championship and the Canadian Open Fiddle Championship. Instead of continuing at Berklee, she decided to "turn pro." In 2000 Verch was "discovered" by Rounder's founder, Ken Irwin, who immediately signed her to his label. Her three Rounder releases, Verchuosity (2001), From Where I Stand (2003), and Take Me Back (2006), established her as a strong performer capable of delivering a wide variety of material from Carter Family classics to contemporary songs with verve and innovative energy.

Steal The Blue, which is on Verch's own label, Slab Town Records, displays her wide-ranging musical styles. She performs a gospel song by Ron Bock , "He's Holding Onto Me," modern bluegrass tunes written by Larry Cordle, "Might Have One Too," and Steve Gulley, "You Hurt Me All Over Again," singer-songwriter material from Sarah Pickle, "Slip Away," and Sarah Siskind, "Some People," traditional fiddle tunes, "Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh" and her own original instrumental, "Independence." In every case Verch brings a unique mix of old-fashioned and modern sensibilities to make every song is special. Unlike her Rounder stable mate, Natalie McMaster, who also plays fiddle, sings, and step-dances, Verch's more eclectic approach covers a wider swath of material and is less focused on one particular genre.

Recorded by banjo virtuoso Scott Vestal at his Tennessee recording studio and produced by Stephen Mougin, Steal The Blue features guest appearances by Sam Bush on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on dobro, and Melonie Cannon and Travis Book on harmony vocals. The arrangements and recording quality throughout the CD are impeccable. Some recordings' allure fades with time, but after several weeks of hard play Steal The Blue has yet to wear out its welcome.

 

 

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