Album Reviews

Pete’s Posse

The Conversation

Artist:     Pete’s Posse

Album:     The Conversation

Label:     Epact Music

Release Date:     09.01.2017

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The well-known multi-instrumentalist and troubadour Pete Sutherland has returned with his all-Vermont “Posse” and new release entitled, The Conversation. ” Pete’s Posse,” as he calls them, is the talented fiddler Oliver Scanlon and the dynamic guitarist Tristan Henderson, The Conversation features 15 songs that incorporate a myriad of old-time, traditional melodies with a contemporary production aesthetic and modern playing concepts. The Conversation is another fine opportunity to listen in on this intimate ever-evolving musical friendship that spans folk, bluegrass and country music.

The album commences with “The Brocca Set.” With an-other-worldly intro that might have you checking the album cover again to be sure it’s not 20th-century avant garde classical music, but then the Posse unfolds a composition of both original and traditional Irish fiddle tunes. Essentially a medley of traditional Irish reels that also incorporates a modern composition from renowned contemporary fiddler Liz Carroll, the various tempos and themes are flawlessly executed and the playing is outstanding.

The Conversation is compelling not only from the sheer talent of its personnel— all three are multi-instrumentalists, singers and songwriters—but also a well-oiled machine and wholly original compositions, such as Sutherland’s “Up and Blow Away,” blending the traditional musical themes of the project. With Henderson’s arpeggiated backdrop, Sutherland plays the beautiful melody that leads to the vocals.

The epic “Stick Season Suite” medley purées mostly original pieces with the classic old-time tune, “Man of Constant Sorrow.” This is what makes The Conversation so good, it’s the ability of the Posse to weave melodies, both original and traditional, into various compositions and suites. With two fiddles playing counterpoint against Henderson’s driving strumming, leading to a voice and fiddle counter point, to a vocal harmony section with mandolin accompaniment.

Pete’s Posse is a three-man operation, but they make music that sounds like a 10-piece band. They represent what’s best about the folk-bluegrass genre, with a strong reverence for the old, but a clear vision of the new and the ability to meld the two.

—Sylvannia Garutch

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