ANNA & ELIZABETH – Anna & Elizabeth (Free Dirt DIRT-CD-0072)

anna & elizabethAnna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle sing the songs of the southern mountains in the old-time style with banjos, guitar, fiddle and distinctive harmonies. Elizabeth hails from Virginia and released her first solo album aged just sixteen. Anna is from Vermont and is a classically trained violinist but was seduced by the sound of the banjo and ran away to the mountains. Anna & Elizabeth is their second album as a duo.

The album is so unfussy as to be spartan. There is added bass on one track and second guitar on another with uilleann pipes from Joey Abarta on ‘Orfeo’, a version that’s very close to its British antecedent but still distinctively different. Alice Gerrard provides a third voice to expand the harmonies.

Anna & Elizabeth opens with an unaccompanied ‘Long Time Travelin’’ and you know exactly where you are. Such names as Frank Proffitt, The Coon Creek Girls and Uncle Dave Macon are scattered throughout the notes to songs which blend the southern staples of Christian hymns, adventures and love – sometimes in the same song. ‘Soldier And The Lady’ is a second cousin to English songs but I can’t help but think that the mention of an orchard is dropping a heavy hint. ‘Greenwood Sidey’ is another track that will be familiar to aficionados of the British tradition. Anna and Elizabeth say that they included Bill Monroe’s ‘Voice From On High’ because they needed a song of redemption among all the tales of struggle but even ‘Goin’ Across The Mountain’, a song from the Civil War, is upbeat enough for anyone.

I have been fortunate enough to hear Anna and Elizabeth live and I can earnestly recommend the experience, particularly given that they will be in the UK next spring. What you don’t get from the record are the “crankies”, properly called moving panoramas – hand-made scrolling dioramas which illustrate some of their songs. I can assure you that they are an experience you don’t want to miss.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Don’t Want To Die In The Storm’ with Alice Gerrard:

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