I Can Hear You Calling - Lena Ullman & Anna Falkenau
LENA ULLMAN and ANNA FALKENAU
I Can Hear You Calling
Scroll Music SM1710 , 12 Tracks, 48 Minutes
"Anna Falkenau plays fiddle and Lena Ullman the five-string banjo, a combination which shouts American old-timey, and you’d be right to conclude that this is indeed old style American string band music. A hundred years on from some of the seminal recordings in this genre, we are left asking is it a pastiche? I got the answer before I put the disc into the CD player, a comment from Andy Irvine in the liner notes, is well worth repeating here: he recalls listening to classic recording of fiddle and banjo duets from the 1920s and concludes by saying that Anna and Lena’s music “Takes me back to the thrilling sounds I listened to in my youth”.
Anna’s previous album Féileacán na Saoirse, was universally greeted as one of the best Irish traditional albums of its year, with reviews hinting that Anna also had a penchant for American music. Now on I Can Hear You Calling we get to savour the other side of her playing. And what an accurate ear Anna has for the style of the music of the Appalachians, from saddling up the album on the opening Chilean Horsemen to Anna’s own composition Apatchy Hunting in the Garden, this is music that you could clog to on any old Kentucky porch.
Lena sings her own composition Blueberry followed by the tune Snowdrop. It’s a plaintive mountain vocal with the fiddle walking us away as the words end the song. Lena’s Fog has a rumour of ragtime as the fiddle and banjo bend notes and dance around little chopped chords on the banjo and a long drawn bow to put the track to bed. Old-timey music has its darker side too, and the pair brings this to the surface on Stranger in the Garden, and Waiting for Anna.
There are Irish tunes here, with the duo looking to Charlie Lennon for Easter Lambs and Ladies’ Choice. They fit well into the album, without distracting from the American theme of the work. With classic old-time songs such as Red Rocking Chair and Black Jack David, no wonder Andy Irvine was so thrilled by this recording."