Kevin Breit featuring Rebecca Jenkins 'Ernesto and Delilah' - Poverty Playlist

A double CD that more than just a extended set or music but rather two distinct parts. It comes housed in a large format attractively design package with sleeve notes (remember them) that explain the origins of the project. The first CD titled Ernesto is an instrumental set of songs associated with Brazilian composer Ernesto Ciari (though there is a note in the booklet that says that he and others mentioned are figments of the imagination - so take that how you will) and which featured the mandolin as the lead instrument. Your liking of this set may well largely depend on your appreciation of that instrument in particular and instrumentals in general. But there is much to savour here, in both the performing and writing of these two sets of songs.

The second CD Delilah again is a showcase for Breit’s mandolin playing but it also is a platform for the strong vocals of Rebecca Jenkins. There is a theatrical element to this song cycle and it feels rather like a soundtrack in many ways, with the songs conjuring up sonic stories. Breit also sings effectively alongside Jenkins on songs such as Murderous Dimitri. Other titles attest to storytelling nature of the writing such as From the Flood, Ghost of California, Cut Me Down, Come on Home and Alberta Hunter. Despite the rather specialist nature of this double album the Delilah portion is likely to attract more attention and has much to commend it both in the vocal delivery and Breit’s writing and arrangement skills as well as his dexterous playing. Thomas Dooley 111’s production is also clear and concise. The well designed booklet has the lyrics to the song and does much to tell the story of Delilah.

Breit is also known as the Upper York Mandolin Orchestra and, other than Russell Boswell’s upright bass, he played all the other stringed instruments involved. So if the mandolin is an instrument that you admire and would like to hear it used to its best effect, upfront and centre, then this will be a project that may well  delight and engage.