DANIEL & EMMA REID – Life Continuum (own label EMR04)

Life ContinuumSaxophone and fiddle isn’t a combination you hear very often, no more than flute and Hardanger fiddle but here they are, together with accordion, piano and viola. Life Continuum is the third album from a duo who are, as they say, big in Sweden. Actually Emma is fairly big in Britain, too, and I know you’re wondering where you’ve heard her name before. She is, of course, a quarter of Methera, sometime musical partner of Rob Harbron and a regular session musician.

With her husband Daniel, Sweden is now her home and where the duo performs most often. They have gone back to basics with this album, no guest musicians and nowhere to hide. It is impossible to describe neatly what Daniel and Emma do. At the beginning I decided that they were playing jazz, even on a traditional tune such as ‘The Sham Doctor’, such is the freedom of their arrangements. The first track, Emma’s ‘Alice Viggvisa’ opens very smoothly but as it segues imperceptibly smoothly into the traditional ‘Polska From Mörkö’ it opens up. Daniel’s ‘Trollsjön’ really does sound as though they’re making it up as they go along – in the best possible way.

Later, in a section devoted to tunes for their children, Emma sings ‘Golden Slumbers’ and in the final quarter, ‘Life Continuum II’, I was astonished to find a song by an old friend, the late Sarah Morgan. ‘Keep You In Peace’ is based on a Celtic blessing and probably written for one of Sarah’s community choirs. I’d like to think of it as proof that music has no frontiers. There are some studio tricks so Life Continuum isn’t off the floor. At one point Daniel duets with himself on flute and baritone sax while Emma plays pizzicato but nothing is done in a gimmicky way. On ‘Hav Av Blätt’, for instance, it really does sound as if Daniel sat down at the piano while Emma picked up her fiddle and they just played.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.danielemma.se

‘Alice From Mörkö’ – live:

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