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Written in Folk Roots issue 167, 1997


Caprice CAP 21462 (1996)

No sooner had Hästen Och Tranen and Agram been enthusiastically reviewed than here’s a third album project involving Ale Möller and Lena Willemark in the space of a year. For some people that might smell of over-stretching, but Frifot’s Järven in its 22 tracks never even hints at coasting, and indeed if anything it’s even more full of melodic energy, depth, skill, wit and drive than the 1990 previous album, by this trio of Möller, Willemark and Per Gudmundson which is right at the beating heart of present-day Swedish-rooted music.
      Central sounds are voice (mainly Willemark’s, but all three sing), octave mandola (Möller) and fiddles (Gudmundson and Willemark), with Möller also on willow overtone flute, harmonica, hammered dulcimer, harp, he and Willemark on wooden whistles, and Gudmundson on Swedish bagpipes, all leaping from ledge to ledge of the shifting stress-patterns. As they exemplify and move forward the tradition on all these instruments, so do they in terms of material - the ballad Oxe Stor Och Mågen (“The Ox And The Son-In-Law”), a pastoral song translated by Lena into her Älvdalen dialect, a polska, a song by Lena, a fast dancing tune by Ale - so run the first five tracks, and the album continues in that vein of tradition, development and new composition.
      No more words, just listen or, better still, if you get the chance go and see.

© 1997 Andrew Cronshaw

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