Folkworld Review

“I Can Hear You Calling raises the hairs on my neck at times, that primal edge on the fiddle particularly.”…read on for Alex Monaghan‘s take on our new CD in the latest Folkworld Issue. Dankeschön Alex!
Lena Ullman & Anna Falkenau “I Can Hear You Calling”
Own Label, 2017
Oldtime banjo and fiddle from this duo: Lena and Anna are equally proficient in Irish traditional music, and there is a bit of Irish mixed in here, but I Can Hear You Calling is mainly new compositions in the oldtime style. Both write great tunes – Falkenau’s Apatchy Hunting in the Garden and Ullman’s Waiting for Anna are good examples. Ullman also had a hand in all four songs here, whether writing the whole thing or just the melody. Black Jack David is a version of The Raggle Taggle Gipsies, while Homeless is a new song by Ullman about one of the big issues in contemporary America and Ireland.
Both Ullman and Falkenau have adopted Ireland as their home after growing up in Sweden and Germany respectively. Ullman started on the five-string banjo in Sweden, but has been absorbing Irish music since the 1970s. Falkenau is a more recent convert, and also spent time in Connecticut with the backwoods players, so the shared experience of the duo spans Irish, oldtime and Germanic styles.
The sound this pair produce is quite old-fashioned, raw acoustic instruments with little post-production, just the two musicians with no backing track, and plenty of old modal cadences somewhere between major and minor on most tunes. I Can Hear You Calling raises the hairs on my neck at times, that primal edge on the fiddle particularly. The final Easter Lambs by Charlie Lennon is quite a contrast, a stately air with an almost baroque feel, Ullman’s banjo taking the role of a Vivaldi or Telemann mandolin as Falkenau switches to German or possibly Swedish smooth technique in the manner of a 19th century town fiddler. If fiddle and banjo is your thing, you should definitely give this CD a listen.
© Alex Monaghan