Review: Katherine Moller – Tea & Tunes

Category: music 103

Versatile New Brunswick fiddler Katherine Moller goes back to basics on her latest album, Tea & Tunes

Matt Carter

Versatile New Brunswick fiddler Katherine Moller goes back to basics on her latest album, Tea & Tunes. After exploring a variety of bold arrangements and instrumentation on Storm Queen (2017) and Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Haired (2011), this album finds Moller returning to traditional accompaniment with the help of guitarist Tom Richards and bodhran player Kim Moller. Inspired by a series of weekly live streamed performances she and Richards have been hosting for the past several years, Tea & Tunes effectively captures the hospitable simplicity of a traditional Celtic music session where lively tunes and beautiful airs reign supreme. 

Over the course of thirteen sets, Moller presents an expected range of old and new compositions, pairing several of her own tunes with timeless standards. 

Through the course of her career as a performer and entertainer, Moller’s unique interpretation of the Celtic genre – an approach that mixes down-home, east coast nuances with a deep appreciation of traditional melodies – has never been the sole defining aspect of her sound. While the Irish and Scottish influence is undeniable, her original compositions often reflect a broader interest in fiddling traditions from around the world. Across her admirable recorded output, Moller pulls influence from Norwegian and Baltic melodies, American ragtime, roots and swing, as well as from our own East Coast fiddling forefathers and mothers like Don Messer, Matilda Murdock, Jerry Holland and others, and the repertoire featured on this album is no exception. The resulting combination of her wide range of influences helps make Tea & Tunes a loose, playful and honest effort – three traits that have helped attract generations of musicians to the instrument. 

After experimenting with form and accompaniment over her past few releases, Tea & Tunes is a welcomed return to basics and a good reminder of fiddle music’s foundational simplicity. 

Katherine Moller | WEB | FACEBOOK | BANDCAMP

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