Sing Out Spring 2011
Readers of this august periodical might know Notorious primarily as a contra dance band, but this CD shows there’s plenty more to them than that. A little bit old-time, offering plenty of songs, and even dipping the toes (very convincingly) into Balkan music on a couple of pieces, this is a disc that could really break them into the upper ranks of American acoustic music, and quite rightly so. Guitarist and banjo player Larry Unger is a familiar name to many, but his foil here, violinist and singer Eden MacAdam-Somer, isn’t, although she might well be after this. Blessed with superb chops and a great feel, she also turns out to be an excellent singer, not only on a heartbreaking piece like “Beneath The Stones,” but also on songs from Romania and Macedonia. Unger himself gets a slide outing on “Blues At Daybreak,” an homage to Blind Willie Jonson, and works well as a duo with MacAdam-Somer on a couple of tracks, including “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans,” a song that takes on a powerful resonance since Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. It’s worth mentioning that the two other band members, Sam Bartlett and Mark Hellenberg, are no slouches, either, more than capable of holding their own, even if they take more of a back seat in the proceedings. It’s music for modern, melting-pot America, glorious, alive, and encompassing, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Notorious is a US folk band that you can book as a duo, trio or quartet. This is their third album and their second one as a quartet. The hearth of the band is formed by composer/musician Larry Unger on strings and violinist/singer/composer Eden MacAdam-Somer. They are joined by percussionist Mark Hellenberg and other string virtuoso Sam Bartlett. On this third album they have guest performances by singer/bouzouki player Frances Cunningham and bass player Mark Murphy. The thirteen recordings on the album are of a sparkling, happy kind. A fine mixture of original songs and songs by artists such as Si Kahn, Esma Redžepova and a few traditional ones. The opening of the album is excellent with the fresh sounding instrumental The road to Damascus composed by Unger. Also their interpretation of Si Kahn’s Wild rose of the mountains is wonderful. Strong vocal work and a great old time sound............
they show real craftsmanship and a more than pleasant overall sound.
© Eelco Schilder