CD Review


Spirit of the Land


This recording is described in the liner notes as a musical journey with Paul Haslem on hammered dulcimer accompanied by Ken Brown on guitar and flute, Hari Pal on tabla, Jeff Burke on bassoon and Mark Agnew on percussion . Ken has also had a hand in producing, arranging, recording and engineering this project along with Paul. There are 10 tracks for a total recording time of exactly forty-nine minutes and six seconds. All the tunes are originals except Mosquito on the Iceberg which is a traditional Canadian fiddle tune.

Track one starts off on a lively ramble through St. Jacobs. The last track finishes with a relaxing waltz on the Conestogo River near St. Jacobs. In between, Paul has waltzed us to the French River in the swirling snow, taken us over the garden wall to walk with our stick on the Cape Breton Highlands and had us do a hornpipe with a mosquito on an iceberg in the Maitland River.

The order of the tracks presents a good variety of arrangements and styles which range from traditional sounding pieces like St. Jacob's Ramble / The Road to Listowel to the more contemporary sounding French River Flight. Ken Brown's flute and Hari Pal's tabla drums mix well with Paul's dulcimer on this track. Give a listen to track five, Tony's Dream / Dancing with Sunlight, to hear how expressive tabla drums can be when played by a master. I enjoyed listening to the title tr ack. Ken's flute and bass playing are solid and supportive to Paul's lead. Jeff Burke's bassoon and Mark Agnew's percussion add interesting elements to turn the listener's ear.

Spirit of the Land is a well-produced, finely crafted piece of work that reflects Paul's love for new instrumental music; inspired by the land; influenced by the diverse cultures within it. Be sure to add it to your collection.

Stephen Todd is a primary school teacher and a founding member of the Celtic band Failte.


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