The Fretless – Bird’s Nest

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

To spend thirty-five minutes ear-deep in the music of The Fretless is to know the fickle rhythms of instrumental folk music’s stirring undercurrent.  Bird’s Nest, the Canadian string quartet’s third outing, is a restless record whose energetic rhythms carry tufts of intricate arrangements, pleasing melodies and broad chunks of emotive chords swiftly along its winding stream.  Original compositions such as Eric Wright’s “Hidden View”, Karrnnel Sawitsky’s “Ronim Road” and Trent Freeman’s “Jig of the Blood Moon” showcase the nimble elbows of the quartet’s three fiddle and viola players whilst Wright’s masterful cello keeps each piece blustering wilfully along.  And just when you’ve got a foothold on the strutting rhythms, there are moments of painterly quietness, as with Ivonne Hernandez’s “Jig Jog”, when Wright’s cello leads the rest of the quartet into a smeared, tranquil landscape of sneering strings.  Much of the nine-track album is dedicated to the band’s beautifully woven originals but a few well-chosen traditional tunes have been thrown in for good measure, such as the pensive title track and dust-flinging renditions of “Maybe Molly” and “Maids of Castlebar”.  Thanks to the speckless production of Joby Baker and The Fretless, every strand of hair on string is preserved for what is a rather stunning, textured and altogether delightful album.