The sweet, sweet sound of the fiddle contains the soul and spirit of folk music in one perfect instrument. Fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes plays bluegrass music which understands the traditions of the instrument’s past but she isn’t afraid to cut loose and find her own path too. Hendersonville Hop begins the album, written by Bronwyn when she was practising in a parked in a mini van. Despite that claustrophobic space the song has an optimistic heart that just makes you smile, nod and maybe yes even want to dance along no matter where in the world you may be stuck right now.
Last Train features the stunning vocals of Sarah Jarosz, and this song perfectly conveys an old timey, classic folk music feel while still sounding distinctive. Jarosz sings with depth and longing, and just enough grit to make the song stand out.
Title track Fiddler’s Pastime is a duet with Laura Orshaw, and hearing two masters of their instruments in communication with each other like this is an absolute joy.
Open Water features mandolinist Sierra Hull (who released her underrated album 25 Trips earlier this year) and this song is just a stunning virtuoso performance from both musicians – the song just makes you crave the chance to see them go full tilt together on stage.
Hello Trouble features the vocals of James Kee and Tim O’Brien, honouring Bronwyn’s time spend playing with them on the many live bluegrass nights in Nashville. O’Brien also assists her on The Minstrel Boy, an old song from the 1800s which he wrote a melody for.
The gorgeous evocative playing on North Garden makes you feel like going out wandering through fields, letting the music fly free on the breeze and just appreciating the beauty of everything good in the world.
Michelle’s Waltz is a tribute to a late family member, a song which resonates so deeply because of the emotion behind the playing. That’s why people will always play real instruments – listeners want to hear the human touch that no computer can ever convey.
Happy Hollow raises the tempo and the mood, showcasing as well some excellent banjo playing from Wes Corbett. Natchez Whistle is a beautiful ballad, with some of the loveliest fiddle on the whole album. We finish off with the barnstorming I Don’t Know Why, which just makes me miss those nights at Station Inn in Nashville or Celtic Connections or whatever back porch you find yourself on when you can’t believe you’re lucky enough to hear some of the best players play some of the best damn music in the world. One day soon we will be back at the hoedown – until then we can listen to this album and dream.
Fiddler’s Pastime keeps the spirit of the instrument alive through gorgeous playing and wonderful collaborations – a welcome listen for any folk and bluegrass fan.