When I choose to review a CD, I ask the artist to describe the CD in one sentence. I do this because I may truly enjoy the CD but might not know exactly what genre box it goes in and that is often a very helpful detail in telling you about it. When I asked Lisa Schneider to describe her CD, it was for that precise reason. I soon found out, I was not crazy, there is NO GENRE BOX for her work! It is certainly instrumental and fiddle driven, although, she sings one of her own songs on the CD, which is a lovely twist to the otherwise instrumental CD. Listening to the CD is like listening to the hearts of several cultures coming together. I couldn't quite place my finger on which culture. I have listened to this CD a ridiculously high number of times. Each time, I enjoy the twists and repetitions of the tunes. Just when I thought I could sing along, the tune would twist in a way that only a fiddle can weave. Lisa describes the CD as a "compilation of original and traditional ethnic-style folk music with hints of Classical, Klezmer, Scandanavian, and Breton elements." If you know any or all of those elements, you will hear every single one, blended together. Some tracks are heavier on one than another, but the overall blended effect is hypnotic and enjoyable. The variety from one track to another keeps your ears on their toes, and yet the spirit that drives the whole CD brings it together.
One of my favorite things about true artists is their ability to use all the crayons in the box. Lisa does that, not only by using a variety of styles, but she also brings in other instruments played by friends and herself. Others on the banjo, accordian, hurdy gurdy and guitars add depth to her tunes. She pulls a few other colors out of her own crayon box. She sings, she plays spoons, and her toy piano playing skills are on display for a track. Toy piano is not some cheap trick to fill up space. It's unique, interesting and a bit haunting.
Lisa has this warm rich deep feminine voice that is fully capable of telling a story. She doesn't over sing or try to soak up all of the light. Her choice in vocal phrasing and mixing make her voice and the instruments work together exactly the way I think folk music should. Her subject matter, voice, and writing style mimic folk styles so well that I had to check to see if it was hers or traditional (it's hers).
If you enjoy folk fiddle, go now and get this CD. It is in my regular rotation and should be in yours. If you're in Austin, visit Waterloo or Things Celtic. If not, visit fiddlisa.com