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Lissa Schneckenburger
Song

Review By Steven Stone
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  Lissa Schneckenburger plays "progressive" New England/Celtic music that combines equal parts traditional harmonic textures with a modern acoustic sensibility. Although her voice doesn't quite have the ravishing lilt of Kate Rusby, Schneckenburger vocals have a pristine directness that suits these traditional tunes perfectly.

Song is Schneckenburger's third release on her own label and is the first of two releases that focuses on material from the New England region. Some of the tunes date back to the eighteenth century. Schneckenburger believes, " No one is getting to hear the amazing wealth of traditional music from the North…it is really important that we represent New England's traditional musical heritage." Much of the material in Song was gleaned from the work of ethnomusicologists, such as Phillips Barry who released The Main Woods Songster in 1939. He collected transcriptions in Northeastern logging camps. Schneckenburger writes, "These guys were up north during the cold winter months, working their butts off in hazardous conditions, far from homes and families, and to pass the time in the evenings they would sing songs." Even though the tunes here are historically correct that doesn't make them dry or academic. Every selection on Song is still vibrant and contemporary.

Along with her regular band Schneckenburger enlisted the aide of accordion players Sharon Shannon and Jeremiah McLane and cellists Rashad Eggleston and Natalie Haas. Eggleston's signature pulsing chop propels the 19th century song "The Old Beggar Man" into the 21st century. Sharon Shannon's rhythmically precise accordion parts on "Lumberman in Town/Go Ken Go" provide Schneckenburger with a perfect foil for her immaculate vocals.

In the early days of the folk boom many performers gave lip service to "preserving our folk heritage" while making what was essentially pop music. On SongLissaSchneckenburger actually does resurrect tunes that have for too long remained unperformed. Instead of academic recreations her renditions have as much passion and life as any contemporary composition. Song leaves me eagerly anticipating its companion release, Dance.

 

 

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