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Daniel, Fred and Julie - Daniel, Fred and Julie

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 11 / 5 / 2010

Daniel, Fred and Julie - Daniel, Fred and Julie
Label: You've Changed Records
Format: CD


Stunning collection of classic folk covers from Canadian folk supergroup Daniel, Fred and Julie which recorded in prmitive conditions sound strangely fresh and contemporary

Although nothing to actually do with the music it contains it’s sad that when so much care and time has gone into the design of the packaging of this CD that because so much information has been crammed onto the back of the sleeve to make it look like a scaled-down version of the old gatefold sleeves which graced so many vinyl albums that it’s virtually unreadable. I’m sure I am not the only one who has to put on the face furniture to read the lyrics and other information printed on the sleeve. It’s a lovely touch to reproduce with such detail a sleeve like this but it just doesn’t work with the limitations of size that the CD imposes. What makes it an even bigger shame is that if any current album should be sleeved in something that recalls times long past then ‘Daniel, Fred and Julie’ is that album. The album is even recorded and recorded extremely well in fact, in good old mono and is listed on that sleeve as an A and B side with five songs per side. Perfect! If only we could read it a little easier this sleeve would have to go down as one of the best of the year. Of course none of this matters if you’re lucky enough to spot a vinyl copy of the album somewhere. The three musicians involved in this blast from the past are Daniel Romano, vocals and guitar, who is a member of Attack In Black. Fred Squire who has been in both Shotgun and Jaybird also takes vocals and plays guitar here and Julie Doiron is the third vocalist who also contributes violin to one song on this album and who is a member of Eric’s Trip. The songs were recorded quickly over a few days in the summer of last year in Fred’s garage. The majority of these songs are very old, songs in the public domain in fact. These versions by Daniel, Fred and Julie win over any originals you may have heard on a number of points. Firstly, many of us like to hear songs such as these, old folk songs sung in three part harmony, but, naturally, trying to find such songs that are actually audible through all the clicks and pops is not an easy task and although many music lovers like the authenticity of those old recordings there are just as many who would like a little more clarity so we can appreciate the actual songs a little more. Secondly although the songs this trio put down were recorded sitting round in a semi-circle in front of a microphone, you’d never know that from just listening to the songs. There are few, if any, rough edges and the harmonies are spot-on. It’s like having the best of both worlds, some of the best folk songs from years long past recorded just a year ago in very basic conditions but still sounding strangely fresh and contemporary. That’s no mean feat. If we take just one of the songs where the lyrics belong in the public domain, one we all know like ‘Clementine’ one may wonder what Daniel, Fred and Julie can do to such a song especially in such a basic setting that hasn’t already been done. Well they haven’t done anything that hasn’t been done before really to be honest but it still feels like the first time you’ve heard the song. Julie’s weeping violin adds poignancy to the song that’s missing from a lot of versions, the yearning male lead vocals are really touching and when they harmonise it simply takes your breath away. Now if three musicians can take an age old song like that which this writer must have heard hundreds of times through the years by countless musicians and still have it still affect me just by sitting around a microphone without really embellishing the song in any way then they must be doing something right. Another surprising thing is that two of the songs are originals written by Daniel Romano. The fact that these two songs, namely ‘Runner’ and ‘Your Love’ fit in so perfectly with the older non-original songs is further proof that this trio understand the music that they cover here better than most other artists who have tried similar projects. Due to the age of the songs and the way it was recorded these songs should have a slightly ramshackle sound to say the very least but they actually sound fresh, alive and like every note and sound has been poured over and I’m just waiting for someone to tell me that the story behind the recording was all a joke and that the songs were recorded in a proper studio and weeks were taken on each track. Because if these three musicians really did take these age old songs and sit in a circle in a garage and basically knock out these tunes in just a few days then their talent is quite frightening. I couldn’t recommend this album more highly to anyone with an interest not only in folk music but in lovingly-crafted harmonies. It’s absolutely stunning.

Track Listing:-
1 The Gambler And His Bride
2 Runner
3 I Dream Of Jeanie
4 No One Knew My Name
5 Hallelujah, I'm A Bum
6 Down By The Weeping Willow
7 Bonny Black Bess
8 Clementine
9 Your Love
10 Johnny Sands

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