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Canadians Suzanne Lavesque (vocals, bass) and Craig Bignall (vocals, guitars, banjo, percussion) make up the duo, Over the Moon. While they have been playing for quite some time, Moondancer is only their debut album. Made up of 1940s western swing and loping western ballads a general warm ambiance wash over the album, like water splashing on rocks of a mountain stream winding its way through the foothills.
“Strangers We Meet” that opens the record is a folk steeped ballad and it isn’t a true reflection of their music. I feel it is a little out of sync with what follows as images of old wooden ranch houses, corals, big starry skies and wide open expanses of the prairie and the famed Canadian Rockies come into view. Moondancer is a joy from the first to last note.
Gentle paced title-track “Moondancer” comes courtesy of a neighbour of theirs, legendary singer-songwriter Ian Tyson, and with the likes of the urgent “Turtle Mountain” stirring the water the duo are supported by thrusting acoustic guitar licks, banjo and roving fiddle an exciting feel of adventure accompanies the track throughout as the dramatic story unfolds, and gains momentum. Swing jazz tune “Over The Moon” sees some of the finest duet vocals on the album; and picking as Aaron Young flexes his muscles on acoustic guitar, Jonathan Lewis (Fiddle) and Denis Keldie (accordion).
“You Don’t Even Know” with its cultured arrangement features clarinet, fiddle and closely knit harmony vocals, the music sounds like it could have been lifted from some 1940s soundtrack. Brilliant! Of an old feel, but of another way fashion is their cover of David Rawlings – Gillian Welch’s stunning “By The Mark”; it too is another 5-star effort. The vocals are shared, and soulful as they do full justice to this beautiful gospel ballad, and with banjo (Bignall) and acoustic prominent throughout (and little else) the lyrics sneak in under the outer layers of one’s soul.
“Hills Of Grey County” is a protest song about quarrying for gravel and proposed plan of destruction of the land’s rural hills. One of the most beautiful creations is the gentle loping “House On The Hill”; Levesque’s wonderful soothing vocals are fittingly, warmed in generous helpings of accordion, banjo, guitar and percussion. More gentle western swing cum jazz comes in the form of wistful gem “Alberta Moon”, more clarinet plus pedal steel guitar (Jeff Bradshaw), and to round off the record Henry Hipkens’ sombre ode “That’s How I Leant To Sing The Blues” is given the task. It enjoys some mighty fine accordion, wurlitzer (Keldie), and usual tight harmony vocals.
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