The journey of A Hawk and a Hacksaw--Jeremy Barnes (vocals, accordion, drums) and partner Heather Trost (violin)--embraces the sounds of myriad places and people. From the midlands of England and France to the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary via the pair's hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this evolving musical story continues to enthrall. Delivrance forges deeper into the culture of the old East and comes back with a suite of euphoric melodies for times of revelry.
Recorded in Budapest during mid-2008 around the core of the Hun Hangar Ensemble (a group of extraordinarily talented Hungarian folk musicians), Delivrance proves that months of submersion in the local culture and making music the focus of daily life has seeped right through Barnes and Trost's songwriting and playing. This is by far their most vivid, intense, and confident work to date.
A mix of traditional songs and original compositions appear on the album. Opener Foni Tu Argile is from Greece, traditionally played on bouzouki with vocals. Collaborator Chris Hladowski (Scatter, Nalle) helps transform into a righteous instrumental stomp with an incredibly seductive, heavily percussive melody that is rich with color and almost seems laden with spice and incense. "Kertesz" sets off a frenzied accordion, racing against the flashing bow of the violin and distinctive sound of the cimbalom, a dulcimer-like instrument played with sticks.
Raggle Taggle touches on a plangent note of sorrow before the violins caper off into a heady dance--an example of typical Hungarian style, but with new melodies. Turkiye urges another breathless dancing spree; this time the trumpet blares atop a swath of melodies from Turkey, Serbia, and Bosnia alongside some brand new ones. The evocatively titled Vasalisa Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest has the aspect of a funereal march, with the clarinet in the spotlight.
Barnes and Trost's new band begin touring mid-March, kicking things off with a SXSW appearance, followed by North American shows with Andrew Bird and Wilco. Their European tour will begin in Leeds on May 2 as part of Fuseleeds09. There will be plenty more festival appearances this summer.