Carolyna Picknick — Le Matin
(Bandcamp TZME 05, 2020, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-12-11
If you’ve been holding your breath for the last nine years waiting for the second Carolyna Picknick album, you can breathe now: Le Matin is finally here. The group is essentially the duo of multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Carton (here he plays guitar, bass, flute, and clarinet) and Dina Maccabee (violin, mandolin, percussion, and vocal on one track), helped out by accordionists Dan Cantrell (on three cuts) and Marié Abe on one other. That’s it, a lean lineup that gets a lot done musically across these thirteen mostly instrumental tracks. Carton and Maccabee are both members of a number of different musical projects, and both (as well as Abe) were members of that wacky eclectic outfit The Japonize Elephants, who were last heard from on their 2012 album Melodie Fantastique. With Carolyna Picknick their music is a little bit more serious, but every bit as much fun, sort of a happy mash-up of Appalachian bluegrass string band sounds and European old-world traditional music, highly melodic at every turn, and surprisingly enjoyable. If L’Ensemble Rayé had been an American group, this is probably what they would have sounded like. “Sand Dance” is a superb example of a toe-tapper that encompasses an amazing array of ideas that all work well together splendidly, using bass, violin, clarinet and more, and coming in just shy of three minutes. With “A Dance for June” the duo applies some classical influences in triple-time to what comes off as a European folk song, with Abe adding some subtle accordion flavor. The Appalachian influences come to the fore in the gentle swinger “Cup o’ Tea,” while “Mister Slappers” is a full-blown romp through a wonderland of Americana jug-folk led by Cantrell’s accordion. The eerie and introspective beginnings of “La Jetée” give way to a beautiful passage for Maccabee’s powerful wordless vocals as the piece proceeds. The entire album sparkles with warmth, joyful melodies and rhythms — there’s really nothing else quite like it.
Related artist(s): Carolyna Picknick
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