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Award-winning fiddler/vocalist/songwriter Andrea Asprelli’s approach to music is best summed up in “Alice,” a jaunty highlight from Cricket Tell the Weather’s self-released sophomore album, in which, she states, “I never put down roots, so don’t give them to me now.” Tell the Story Right, the band’s first recording since their 2014 eponymous debut, is a diverse collection of original compositions, well-chosen covers, and updated traditional songs that challenges preconceived notions of old-time music and delivers one of the strongest Americana offerings of 2016.
Mainstays of the rich New England folk and bluegrass scene, Cricket Tell the Weather is the creative force of Andrea Asprelli and a core cast of young NYC-based traditional musicians that includes Doug Goldstein [banjo], Mike Robinson & Jeff Picker [guitar] and Dave Speranza & Sam Weber [bass]. Asprelli and crew split the recording of Tell the Story Right between studios in Lake Ariel, PA, and New York, NY, and will bring their unique blend of traditional and contemporary elements to audiences throughout the Northeast this autumn in support of Tell the Story Right.
Asprelli’s original composition, “Briar,” serves as the album’s opener and lead-off single. A punchy number with an infectious chorus, “Briar” showcases Asprelli’s honeyed alto, duly complimented by background vocals from the band, punctuated with inventive banjo lines, courtesy of Doug Goldstein. The subtle chord variations that accompany the chorus following Goldstein’s solo section heighten the emotional elements of the song to great effect.
“Photographs,” another Asprelli original, gives the album its proper title, via the opening lines, “I’ve never trusted photographs to tell the story right; never thought it fair to favor one scene caught in time.” Sonically, it is reminiscent of the late Kate Wolf’s early work with her band the Wildwood Flower. Asprelli’s swinging ditty “Alice” features an audacious upright bass solo from Sam Weber and interplay between Goldstein’s banjo and Asprelli’s fiddle that is reminiscent of classic Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli exchanges. The instrumental original, “Lucinda’s Daughter,” provides band members with ample opportunity to show off their bluegrass chops.
Traditional tracks on Tell the Story Right include the spirited “If I Had My Way,” which features the chorus associated with Blind Willie McTell’s 1927 recording “If I Had My Way, I’d Tear This Building Down,” coupled with original lyrics by Andrea Asprelli. The band’s reading of “Little David Play on Your Harp” features some of the album’s most tantalizing harmony vocals complete with a blazing a-Capella section.
Rounding out Tell the Story Right are interpretive readings of Regina Spektor’s “Samson” and Laura Marling’s “Daisy.” The former gives Asprelli an opportunity to explore her nuanced vocal range while the latter features some of the most melodic chord changes on the record.
Clocking in at just under thirty-two minutes, Cricket Tell the Weather’s Tell the Story Right manages to dazzle and flourish without ever wearing out its welcome. Hopefully, Andrea Asprelli’s musical vision will include further explorations down this particular folk alley.
Key Tracks: “Briar” “If I Had My Way” “Photographs” “Daisy”