Artist: Hanneke Cassel
Album: Trip to Walden Pond
Label: Cassel Records
Release Date: 4.14.17
Looking at past titles such as My Joy or Many Happy Returns, you can already suspect that Hanneke Cassel’s songs lean towards brightness and positivity. It’s rare to see her onstage or in photos when she’s not smiling like crazy. Most importantly, her fiddling also backs it up with a continual sense of wonder. Trip to Walden Pond is inspired (of course) by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s classic back-to-nature thesis, as well as the fact that it was the site of her own wedding once upon a time, and the album’s mix of those feelings is a heartfelt delight.
In keeping with the nature theme, Cassel weaves a kind of chamber-y folk that’s airy without being lightweight. She coaxes a lovely resonant sound out of the strings with fluid grace, while her backing players provide a richly toned bed of cello, viola, piano and guitars underneath. The mood is largely meditative and peaceful throughout, though there are a few livelier parts that could make a nice jig for woodland fairies even without any percussion.
There are stories behind each of these pieces: some are dedicated to friends or themed around memories of places Cassel has been, though since it’s an instrumental work, we can only imagine what really went into them. And really, that’s just as it should be. The reels and highland airs can evoke anything you like, and it’s perfectly nice to enjoy the pleasant sounds all on their own. This is a travelogue that says everything in warm friendly aural colors without needing any words.