Tammerlin’s sparkling new release features their always impressive band as well as special guests, Darol Anger, Byron House, and Joe Craven.
Since 1992, Lee Hunter and Arvid Smith -Tammerlin have been placing their own stamp on folk/roots music. What you’ll hear is exceptional guitar work accompanying clever original songs and traditional tunes pulled from the roots of American music-a little bit folk, pop, country, old time, British Isles and blues-with some world music flavorings. Always aiming to convey their passion for these stories to the listener…this is the magic of the music of Tammerlin.
Poised to release their fifth recording, Lee and Arvid continue their evolution. ““No Small Thing” features nine of Hunter’s original songs. From the introspective, hook-driven opener “Autumn Refrain” to the bittersweet title song to the hope-filled closing tune “The Last Dance”, beautifully arranged by Darol Anger, her writing is stronger than ever-lyrical and intelligent, with melodies that stick in your head. Smith masterfully handles the instrumental work-fingerstyle and slide- on acoustic and electric six and twelve string, lap steel, melobar and dobro. He also contributes a mesmerizing sitar piece, “Crosscurrents”. Lee and Arvid have always been known for their treatment of traditional songs and this recording is no exception. There’s a richly textured reading of “I Once Loved a Lass”, with Smith’s electric and acoustic 12-strings and Darol Anger’s violins swirling around an acoustic bass foundation created by Byron House. In contrast is “Leaves of Life”, a sparse duet where Joe Craven’s haunting solo violin illuminates Hunter’s vocal. Rounding out the sound are inspired covers of Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and Coldplay’s “Kingdom Come”.
The collaboration began in Jacksonville, Florida in 1989 when Smith and Hunter were drawn together by a shared love for folk and world music. With that, they stepped into that stream of expression that goes back to the first campfire. The result is a style that transcends the music’s origins while honoring its roots. “It’s all about evolution,” Hunter says. “Music has never stayed in one place and it’s not going to. Lots of people are doing what we’re doing, but in different ways. We’re taking traditional music and writing inspired by the tradition as well, to a new place, with our own voices and vocabulary and experience, but always with respect for where it came from.” In Tammerlin’s music, you hear that process.
As Tammerlin takes on more and more original material, Lee Hunter is usually the one wielding the pen. She handles rhythm guitar duties and most of the vocals with a voice that one Florida music magazine called “haunting, passionate, and powerful”. Whether the song recalls a tragedy, a lover’s longing or a light-hearted take on everyday experience-it is the perfect instrument around which to build a sound.
“A wizard on the silver strings” is how Britain’s New Musical Express described Arvid Smith’s approach to the guitar. Smith is a man in love with strings with a collection of instruments to prove it. He’s been categorized as a “fingerstylist”, a description that is simultaneously apt and inadequate. He plays a mean slide and some pretty rockin’ electric as well. Possessed of a high level of skill and a cleverness to match, he can “pick the splinters out of” a guitar or coax and cajole the gentlest of sounds.
Tammerlin’s debut CD, the self-released “Roll Down Thy Window, drew critical acclaim from Folk Roots, a prominent European folk and world music magazine, and Dirty Linen, an equally prominent American-based folk and world music publication. The album was featured on the BBC World Service, and one track was chosen by Folk Roots for inclusion on its “Froots #6” compilation CD. The duo continued their trademark now-mystical, now-rootsy sound with their second CD, “Third Weeks A’Lightnin’, (Binky Records)” released in December 1996.
Tammerlin’s third recording, “Wind Horses” (Binky Records 2002) featured a number of Hunter’s stylistically- varied original songs. They took on traditional material in several Civil War-era ballads and two medieval French folk songs. There’s even a mystical soundscape inspired by the seals off the coast of Scotland. The sound prompted Dirty Linen Magazine to call Tammerlin “one of the best kept secrets in America”. “Wind Horses” was followed by “One Kind Favor”, released on their own label, BirdsTale Records, in 2005. On this recording, Hunter really began to stretch as a songwriter. There’s pop, country, blues, even ragtime, side by side with beautiful arrangements of some traditional fare, including a resurrected ballad from Kentucky, sung by Hunter and accompanied by Darol Anger. The London-based world music magazine, fROOTS, proclaimed, “gentle shimmers of rootsy Americana”, and Savannah, GA’s, Connect Savannah, stated, “Lee Hunter’s high, wispy vocals and Arvid Smith’s captivating dobro and guitarwork reference early Richard & Linda Thompson”.
Throughout, Lee and Arvid continue to tour and find their music in demand at venues across the U.S. and in Europe. They have shared the stage with such artists as The Band, Emmylou Harris, Alex De Grassi and Doc Watson.
The music of Tammerlin takes the listener on a journey-a journey through time, although it’s anything but linear-constantly moving forward, always reaching back. Whether you hear them as a duo or collaborating with talented friends, the sound is rich, full, fascinating and just a step off of the well-beaten path.
In praise of “One Kind Favor” (BirdsTale Records, 2005)
“Gentle shimmers of rootsy Americana….”
fROOTS, London, UK
“There’s a shimmering, airy quality to the arrangements that well suits Hunter’s voice.”
“On the duo’s new CD, “One Kind Favor,” the pair is working at the top of its game. Hunter’s rich, emotive alto gleams like a jewel in sterling musical settings on her own compositions as well as on a selection of well-chosen traditional folk tunes. Smith’s musicianship is immaculate throughout….
“Tammerlin has done folk and roots music one kind favor with their new work. “
Daytona Beach News Journal
“Lee Hunter has become a very strong writer, and her music fits seamlessly alongside the several traditional pieces….Great guests and excellent musicianship throughout…..Excellent record.”
Global Village Idiot (on-line music zine) https://www.tradebit.com
“Lee Hunter’s high, wispy vocals and Arvid Smith’s captivating dobro and guitarwork reference early Richard & Linda Thompson . . .
. . . . . eclectic, well-schooled traditional music that’s forward-thinking and quietly innovative.”
Connect Savannah, Savannah GA
“smart, original lyrics and memorable melodies mixed with innovative reworkings of obscure traditional fare”
“classy, beautiful, and intriguing”
Friends of Florida Folk FOCUS Newsletter
In praise of Wind Horses (Binky Records, 2002) . . . . .
“One of the best kept secrets in America”.
Dirty Linen Magazine
The Tallahassee Democrat
“Tammerlin have taken folk’s roots and majestically nurtured them into the 21st century.”
The Daytona Beach News Journal
“Hunter and Smith are experts in their field, channeling folkloric song in new and challenging ways.”
Folio Weekly, Jacksonville, FL
What the press says about Tammerlin . . . . . . (for Roll Down Thy Window (Binky Records, 1995) and Third Weeks A’Lightnin’ (Binky Records, 1996))
“A beautiful sound. Lyrics to roll over your tongue. Eclectic but not quirky. Well done.”
Sing Out Magazine
“Hunter’s ethereal,, but sharp vocals are one of the group’s major strengths. The group’s other strength is Smith’s eclectic guitar work……… it’s both enjoyable and challenging all the same.”
Dirty Linen Magazine
“It’s the acoustic sound that, for me, really takes off. Guitar, banjo, and bodhran generate an intense pulse……Electric folk of a sort which doesn’t harken back to the golden age, but instead has its eyes firmly fixed on the present-and future.”
Folk Roots Magazine
“……The most intriguing mix of electric and acoustic instruments pure folk may have ever experienced…It’s a clever updating that still shows complete respect for the purity of the original music, and it’s that unwavering respect for their genre that makes Tammerlin’s work so captivating.”
Out N’About Magazine
“……An eclectic outlook with some dazzling musicianship and with some exceptional vocal warblings offered by vocalist Lee Hunter.”
“You need this album. (Roll Down Thy Window) It will change your preconceptions, your ears, your mind.”
The Rocket , Seattle, WA
“…..The atmosphere during the Tammerlin concert was alternately electrically charged and hauntingly seductive.”
Baton Rouge Acoustic and Folk Society
“Tammerlin dazzled the audience with their originality on a stage full of instruments….The duo expresses wonderful chemistry and stage presence and entertained the appreciative audience with their beautiful vocals and instrumental wizardry.
Spoleto Today, Post and Courier
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