Anna & Elizabeth 'Anna & Elizabeth' - Free Dirt

This duo are inspired by old-time, folk, Appalachian and bluegrass music. Elizabeth plays banjo and Anna also plays banjo as well as fiddle and guitar. On two tracks they are joined by guitarist and bass player Joseph DeJarnette. Uillean piper Joey Abata adds a droning atmosphere to the song Orfeo, a Scottish traditional song Anna and Elizabeth pieced together from various versions of this Child ballad that speaks of fairies under the hill.

The majority of the songs are from traditional sources with additional choices including Won’t You Come and Sing with Me? by Hazel Dickens and Voice from on High, co-written by Bill Monroe and Bessie Mauldin. The sound is spare, rustic and revealing. It is ageless music delivered in its most fundamental form; voice and acoustic instrument. It is the voices that are the most immediately striking thing about Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt. Don’t Want to Die in the Storm is sung acapella which best displays the closeness of the intertwined and intimate vocals. 

Many of these songs have a darkness that resonates. Greenwood Sidey tells of child murder, also know as The Cruel Mother, is delivered over an effective repeated guitar motif and shows how the duo can vary the tone of their vocal delivery to suit a particular song. They take a very traditional route that could have come from any time in the last hundred years or more, and add nothing to these songs as nothing is needed other than the deep quality of the human voice, something that is celebrated in these songs by this clearly talented duo. Not everyone’s cup of tea by any stretch, but if this kind of music appeals then this album will give you much to savour. Anna and Elizabeth are joined on the album by the renowned Alice Gerrard, who offers words of praise and notes that they do the tradition proud and there is no doubt of that. The album comes with a booklet of illustrations and notes on the songs that makes for a well rounded package.