The Newpart

April Verch

Slab Town Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Of all the instruments I could hear an album centered around, the violin isn't exactly on the top of the list. Not that I don't appreciate the difficulty of the violin. In fact, following a two-year stint trying to learn how to play the damn thing, I'm quite familiar with its complexity. Now, of course I enjoy hearing its aching charm and sophisticated grace, but an entire album? Well, April Verch had a tall order on her hands to make me a fan.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album starts off with “Belle Election,” a quick paced instrumental that shows incredible skill that prepares the listener for what's to come next. “If You Hadn't Gone Away” follows and is on par with the general atmosphere of the album, transporting us back to simpler times with a moody waltz that builds the foundation for the country-folk feeling of “Bring Your Clothes Back Home.” Verch does offer several tracks as instrumentals here, the best being the playful title track “The Newpart,” and the most unusual being a quiet percussive track titled “Gilchrist,” which serves mostly as an interlude.

When Verch does utilize her voice, it's a thing of beauty, and often resonates with the sweetness of a younger Emmylou Harris. Songs like the soft “It Makes No Difference To Me” or the yearning “Montana Call” are laden with so much allurement it makes one wonder why her voice is only used in moderation. As the album progresses, Verch seems to go further back in time to nearly vaudeville moments like “Midnight Wheeler” and also approaches barnyard, country shuffling in songs like “Dry Bones.”

Ultimately, Verch is a master of her craft. She's been consistently active since the early '90s and has around been officially crowned a champion of her instrument in her home country of Canada. The Newpart is her 11th album and easily won me over with its intricate details and timeless sincerity.

Rating: A-

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