A Roof for the Rain
(Dorian, 2001)

Greenfire produces a lot of sound for a band that only has two members. This is accomplished mainly because of the sheer talent of the two musicians, with Ken Kolodner on the hammered dulcimer and Laura Risk on the fiddle. Oh sure, they might cheat a little by having a guest guitarist in the songs. Nevertheless, both artists really know how to use their instruments to their full potential. This creates a Celtic/folk album that is full of beautiful melodies, laid-back or up-tempo, whose aim it is to make the listener feel right at home.

The album shows familiarity with traditional music from a wide range of cultures. While many of the songs are familiar to Irish circles, there is a fairly strong representation from QuŽbec, as well as songs composed by Risk and Kolodner themselves. In fact, both Risk and Kolodner have impressive musical careers, either solo or with other performance groups. Kolodner's album Walking Stones, which features Risk, was a critical success and reached BMG Record Club's Top 15 Best-Selling Albums in the classical/world music category.

The title track is a wonderful upbeat introduction to the album. Kolodner sets up a wonderful percussive melody with the hammered dulcimer, which is the perfect backdrop for Risk's expressive fiddling. The second song, "Autumn in Paris," has a lovely solo by Kolodner, and you can easily tell why he is renowned as one of the most accomplished hammered dulcimer players around. As "Breton Dance/The Breakers Reel" begins, it sounds like you have just opened the lid of a small, magical music box -- this tune is marvellous.

Other highlights include "The Flying Buttress Polka/Donacha Lynch's," which easily gets the toes tapping. Both band members get to show off their amazing talent in this one. "Marche ˆ Quteux Pomeleau/McDowell's/Quatrime Partie de Quadrille Bouchard/Reel St-Joseph," in addition to having a very long name, is one heck of a medley. A remarkable sense of fun really comes through this up-beat set of French songs. The album ends with an explosive medley titled "Sandy's Dilemna/Coalminer's/Monaghan Twig."

A Roof for the Rain includes a booklet full of anecdotes for each song, as well as biographies for each of the artists. In this booklet I was delighted to discover that Kolodner and Risk met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which is held at Bird's Hill Park just outside my hometown.

For Celtic music fans, this album is certainly worth acquiring. I can pretty much guarantee it will impress you. If that seems a little presumptuous, then you obviously haven't listened to the album.

[ by Patrick Derksen ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002

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