Linda Warnaar, a talented musician and songwriter from Barnet, Vermont, has composed and performed a wide variety of music in the North Country for nearly 20 years. A master of many styles, she demonstrates her musical agility on her latest CD, Spin. The disc contains a marvelously eclectic mix of originals, and features production and instrumental assistance from percussionist/bassist Micah Carbonneau.
Warnaar comes from a family that includes multiple generations of big-band trumpet players. Though there is no brass on Spin, her jazz sensibilities are very much present. In addition to her expressive voice, Warnaar's main instrument is a nylon string guitar. On a number of tracks, she takes her listeners way far south, blending sinuous Latin grooves with Carbonneau's beats and rhythms. This makes sense: Warnaar's musical education includes trips to Cuba for drum lessons.
The album's title track employs a funky "Tallahatchee Bridge"-style riff as a foundation for guest fiddler Doug Reid. The latter also adds Eastern European gypsy violin to "Old Man Grey," a bluegrass-style murder ballad with a catchy "diddley-dee" refrain.
On instrumental duets such as "Alto Plano" and "Yes," Warnaar and Carbonneau sound comfortable swapping tempo and melody, as though they've been playing together for ages.
With so many influences, and a songwriter who likes to blend them, Spin could have ended up just a sonic hodgepodge. However, the many musical switch-ups are handled with taste and style - the CD feels like a unified whole.
Warnaar and Carbonneau's musical dance can be heard live this Saturday, March 24, when they celebrate Spin's release at the Music Box in Craftsbury, an intimate acoustic-music venue.