Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves: Hurricane Clarice

Hurricane Clarice is the second album by American stringband musicians Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves. It contains a mix of songs and tunes strongly rooted in traditional old-time music with de Groot playing banjo and Hargreaves on fiddle.

The pair recorded this in Portland, Oregon in the middle of a global pandemic and were encouraged by producer Phil Cook to weave their own family histories into the project by including audio recordings of their own grandmothers. The album became in their words “a direct infusion of centuries of matrilineal folk wisdom, a fiery breath of apocalyptic grandmother energy.”

It gets off to a fine start with the song ‘The Banks of the Miramichi’, out now as a single. This is followed by two instrumentals: the flowing melodic ‘Wellington’ by de Groot, and the faster foot-stomping ‘Nancy Blevins’. Next comes ‘Each Season Changes You’ a country song about seasonal depression. The album’s title track is an instrumental composed by Hargreaves and inspired by the surreal world of Brazilian author Clarice Lispector.

The cracking pace and virtuosity of the musicianship continues right through until the ninth and final track ‘The Road That’s Walked by Fools’. This simple song about life as a touring musician provides the perfect ending after all the fireworks that has gone before.

The timeless character of the music is reinforced by the fragments of spoken word recordings but most of all is achieved by the sheer immediacy and spontaneity of the performances. This seeming spontaneity, however, comes as the result of astonishing skill and commitment by two musicians with an obvious love for these songs and tunes.

Allison de Groot (right) and Tatiana Hargreaves (Photo: Tasha Miller)

The album was recorded as if it was a live show and it certainly appears like that to the listener, though the unusual process, with a minimum of overdubs, was not that simple. The time in the studio was demanding and different, but Hargreaves says: “We aren’t perfect and we don’t want our album to sound perfect”.

The inspirations behind these pieces come from various sources including history, family, literature, and the environment. It would be easy enough to talk about moving traditions forward but interestingly de Groot adds: “I’m tired of the perceived goal being to push the music forward. I don’t think that means that much and it’s a capitalist idea; a desired goal but not necessarily a positive thing.”

She makes a good point. What really matters is just the uplifting experience of listening to these musicians who are so obviously at the top of their game.

The album is available in CD and LP formats as well as digital download and the notes contain detailed information on each of the selections.

Hurricane Clarice will be released by Free Dirt Records on 25th March.

Explore posts in the same categories: Roots Music from Out There

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