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World Music CD Reviews North American

April Verch

By Rob Weir
Published December 12, 2006

Take Me Back
Rounder

Ottawa, Canada’s cosmopolitan capital, doesn’t exactly evoke rural life in the average person’s mind, but April Verch hails from the upriver Ottawa Valley, a region of farms and timberlands, not retail and politics. When Verch sings sweet country-laced songs or fiddles serious hoedown tunes, it’s an authentic manifestation of tradition, not Gillian Welch-like affectation. Take Me Back sounds like Alison Krauss with a little bit of Natalie MacMaster thrown in. Like Krauss, Verch made her initial mark as a fiddler, but now she also catches listeners’ attention with vulnerable vocals whose light tones can evoke utter sincerity, as on the title track, or break your heart on songs such as “I Still Cry.” Plus, while Krauss leaves most of the fancy instrumental work to hired hands these days, Verch evokes MacMaster with her high-energy bowing and step-dancing, which combine musical talent with an instinct for spectacle. This new mix of bluegrass, country, old-time melodies and original material might just catapult Verch to the same lofty heights as Krauss and MacMaster. But star or not, her talent is undeniable.