Scott Jeffers 2007
Striking solo to revel in reels and let his vocals rest, American violinist reigns supreme in instrumental world.
It was an unexpected turn of events: after three successful albums with TRAVELER, with "Fields Forever" defining the band’s prospects for decades to come, this ensemble’s leader delivered a record under his name – a riveting, mostly acoustic work that doesn’t concentrate on his distinctive voice, focusing instead of his playing and imaginative handling of folk idiom. Marrying traditional material to original pieces which often segue into each other within a single number, Scott Jeffers revs up a well-tuned time machine and journey through centuries yet, quite uncharacteristically, keeps his trip to a particular region on “Celtica” – to carry on scattering such melodies further on and collect some of those on a dedicated comp nine years down the line. Tackling it instrumentally would make interesting even familiar fare – only the Arizonan artist rarely cares about overt familiarity here.
That’s why he chose to begin this voyage with the pairing of “Tamlin” – a Davey Arthur version thereof – and the self-composed “Russian Dance” whose initial delicacy of pizzicato and strum will soon prove deceptive, as a bodhran-driven toe-tapping groove and a lightweight bowing are bound to sweep the reflective mood away, with mandolin directing the drift across the ocean where a hoedown is happening. So while there’s more of military drama to the brace of the ancient “Kesh Jig” and a fresh “Castle Dawn” which come full of cinematic nuances, Scott’s fiddle imitating bagpipes, and Devil’s Dream” gains pace and twang and turns into “Whiskey Before Breakfast” in an epic, albeit organic, manner, his own “Sugar Rush” builds momentum rather reservedly but amasses amazing vigor along the way.
Without openly rocking, Jeffers’ armory might reveals a heavier edge to “Road To Lisdoon Varna” that gradually discards translucent licks in favor of an almost electric unison, whereas “Seven Springs” flutters off the strings like a butterfly, and the coupling of “Smash The Window” and “Three Black Crows” feels a bit sly in its barroom swirl. However, the readings of “Red Haired Boy” and “Irish Washerwoman” seem too faithful to ignite the same flame as the unhurried matching of “Swallowtail Jig” to “Marcus McWhirter” which allows Scott to finally unleash his virtuoso approach to the Old World’s lore. Flawed and brilliant, this album is exquisitely magnificent.