April Verch: The Newpart album review

April Verch

April Verch has managed to craft her own unique style of music by resurrecting elements of old American roots and bluegrass and blending them with the simplicity of folk. The Canadian step-dancer turned fiddler was raised amidst the influence of her father’s country band, church singing, community dances and fiddle competitions. It all meant that she was determined from an early age that she would pursue a career as a professional musician.

Now, some two decades later, Verch is getting ready to release her landmark tenth studio album, The Newpart. Named for the beloved family room of her childhood home, it was where she once enjoyed witnessing her father’s band practice and where she still rehearses herself when she’s not out on the road.

The compilation begins with the jovial “Belle Election.” It’s an entirely instrumental number in which lively fiddle work dances along merrily to a buoyant beat. Its successor, “If You Hadn’t Gone Away”, is more reserved. This simple and expressive entry features mellow instrumentation that slowly unfolds alongside a high pitched melody.

“Bring Your Clothes Back Home” features lighthearted and playful strings, as well as an extended bass sequence. The innocent vocals recall a tune that feels like it could have been plucked straight out of a Disney movie.

Title track, “The Newpart”, leads into festive fiddles via a fast paced, acoustic riff. The sound is more than a little reminiscent of a traditional Irish ditty. It’s followed by the warm, emotional instrumentation and soft melody of “It Makes No Difference to Me”.

“Cruel Willie” is composed of gentle acoustic guitars and poignant background strings, while “Gilchrist” taps along to nothing but the sound of step-dancing. “Montana Call” arrives next through solemn fiddle work and introspective, lamenting vocals.

“Polska from Kumla” is another instrumental addition, returning to a cheerfully optimistic sound that conveys a sense of excitement. “Midnight Wheeler” maintains a carefree atmosphere, developing a swift rhythm infused with more traditional hints.

The airy vocals of “It Don’t Do Nothing but Rain” evolve over an upbeat riff before “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” adopts a classic folk vibe with bright instrumentation and a relaxing harmony. “Dry Bones” bridges the gap to the finale through stirring strings and resonating vocals. “This Melody” concludes the proceedings then by beginning with a piercing harmony that’s soon joined by reflective string work. It puts a slow and affecting cap on the record.

April Verch has assembled a piece of work here that sounds and feels very much like a soundtrack from a Broadway show or musical. It’s characterful and full of life, playing like a narrative in audio form. The Newpart will be available for purchase on April 20th, after which you can catch the artist herself on tour in Ireland and the UK from May 6th to 24th.

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Graduate of NUI Maynooth's Department of English, passionate writer of fiction and creative non-fiction alike. Mad about music, movies and books. If there's anything I enjoy more than listening, watching and reading, it's writing about what I listen to, watch and read! Check me out at davecsimpson.wordpress.com, find me on Twitter @davesimpson1 or drop me a line at dave@puremzine.com