Album Reviews

Spuyten Duyvil

The Social Music Hour, Vol. One

Artist:     Spuyten Duyvil

Album:     The Social Music Hour, Vol. One

Label:     Spuytenduyvilmusic

Release Date:     03/14/2015

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What is Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced SPITE-en DIE-vul)? It’s an upper middle class neighborhood of the Bronx, NYC, tucked between the Harlem and Hudson Rivers. It is named after Spuyten Duyvil Creek. The name is of Dutch derivation (remember, this used to be New Amsterdam) and means “spouting devil” in reference to the wild tidal currents in the area. So then, who are Spuyten Duyvil? They hail from nearby Yonkers, NY and are exquisite musicians and vocalists seriously dedicated to what has come to be known as Americana music, or traditional folk music. But they are no throwback tribute band. So sure are their collective musical senses and talents, that they do not hesitate to take centuries old, well-known folk songs and imbue them with new “Spuyten Duyvil” energy and interpretation.

I confess that my musical heart is firmly entrenched in traditional folk music. So I was especially excited to see that this album featured “Lord Franklin,” “Barbara Allen,” “The Cruel War” and “Stewball.” What I did not expect, was to encounter these immortal tunes dressed in a new energy and zeal. Their rendition of “Stewball” is unlike any I have ever heard. It is defiantly funky, bluesy with an edge, with a rough Dr. John-ish lead vocal. Peter, Paul and Mary it ain’t. This one makes your blood rush and your feet dance. It is no accident that “Lord Franklin” is my favorite cut, since it is one of my most beloved songs. Happily, they do it proud. Beth Jamie Kaufman’s lead vocal simply melted me to the core, and the acoustic arrangement transported me to a better, though admittedly melancholy, place.

These immensely talented, well-schooled musicians deserve to be heard far and wide – they restoreth thy soul.

-Robert Myers

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