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World Music CD Reviews North American

Various Artists

By Michael Stone
Published April 27, 2007

The Rough Guide To Yodel
World Music Network

Yodeling is the wordless vocalizing distinguished by a characteristic break in the voice as it passes from the chest across the epiglottal divide into the falsetto realm. You know the clichés, trivial camp obscurity and all, but the Swiss Alps, Appalachia and Western Swing’s open range comprise mere pockets of yodeling’s known universe, which extends to every inhabited continent. Pursuing a didactic mission—claiming respect for its subject—this absorbing anthology begins with children’s folk artist Cathy Fink’s clear and simple yodeling lesson. Other North American practitioners include Berklee-trained Gillian Welch, Texan Janet McBride (channeling Patsy Montana), Kenny Roberts (“king of the yodelers”), Arkansan Carolina Cotton (“the yodeling blonde bombshell”), Nebraskan fusion yodeler Laura Love, Washington trucker Mike Johnson and Fugs founder (“yodeling yippie”) Ed Sanders. From there things head to Hawaii, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Bollywood, Mongolia, Cameroon (Francis Bebey) and the Pygmy collaborations of Baka Beyond. Consistently fascinating.