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Review: Daniel & Emma, Innerligheten

Daniel & Emma
Innerligheten
[Emmareid (2010)]

Saxophone and fiddles probably seem like odd bedfellows; very few bands feature both instruments. But Daniel Carlsson and Emma Reid make it work in a dreamy Swedish folk context—as a duo yet! To give you an idea of their sound, for the most part, his sax sounds more like her fiddle than the other way around, but they mesh well. The Scandinavians do have a history of using sax in folk bands such as Groupa, often focusing on the deeper, more somber sounds of the bass and baritone saxes. Daniel follows suit, playing baritone on about a third of the cuts, otherwise keeping it brighter with soprano and alto sax.

Daniel was trained as a classical saxophonist, lured into folkdom by the sound of jam sessions drifting through his college dorm. Emma, on the other hand, started out as a folkie, first playing with Väsen fiddler Roger Tollrath as a pre-teen. She also plays in the folk string quartet Methera and brings a bit of British folk flavoring.

From their backgrounds, you can get a good sense of the sounds offered. Daniel and Emma’s music is more about mood than melody, and while their instruments dance and weave around each other, it’s a dreamlike, contemplative movement. The only vocals on the whole album come during the first selection, “Mari ar moal/Rowan,” which features a reading (in English) of William Blake’s “Nurse’s Song” from Songs of Innocence. And while Daniel and Emma are joined on few tunes by guests such as Tollroth and octave fiddler Görgen Antonsson, the guests never intrude on the duo’s musings, and the album remains an evocative whole.

—Jeff Lindholm (Montpelier, VT)

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