I used to think you needed a phone booth or a DeLorean to travel back in time. Apparently I was wrong. It turns out all you need is a CD player, the latest self-titled release from Vermont’s own Twist of the Wrist and a little imagination. With sparse arrangement, skillful execution and a tasteful selection of tunes, the trio of Robert Resnik, Elizabeth Thompson and Barbara Wager pooh-pooh the flux capacitor and channel the Renaissance and Middle Ages. And they do it using little more than a guitar, accordion and an armful of wind instruments. The songs — all covers or traditional tunes — capture the World Western European genre with an ease typical of such multitalented performers.
Resnik, of course, is no stranger to these pages. The host of Vermont Public Radio’s “All the Traditions,” and a regular Seven Days contributor, had his recent release with fellow musician and Highland Weavers bandmate Marty Morrissey — entitled Old and New Songs of Lake Champlain — reviewed only months ago. Demonstrating his collaborative spirit once again, Resnik squeezes his accordion and strums his guitar with aplomb for Twist of the Wrist. His lines dance nimbly between Thompson’s engaging vocals and Wager’s spirited saxophone and flute in a melodic trio fit for a king’s court.
Incidentally, most of the tracks on the album are contemporary — written in this century or the last by an assortment of accomplished artists known for “new music that sounds hundreds of years old.” The album boasts no fewer than three Frédéric Paris numbers. The French dance music composer appears a favorite of the Twist crew, particularly that man’s waltzes. Indeed, Twist of the Wrist take particular delight in the waltz, turning to that elegant dance-friendly style frequently.
In addition to Paris’ “Retour du Montaignac” and “Derrière Chez Nous,” Chris Wood’s “Elizabeth Clare” and Ian Luff’s “The Old Queen” join the ranks of songs in three-quarter time. Add to that mix “Pender’s Fen” — a “new jig” composed by Jon Swayne — and Daniel Thonon’s dance-inducing “Schottisch Stockfish,” and you have a collection of couples-friendly covers as well suited to summer festival performances as to inspiring casual listeners to add a sprightly skip and a hop to household chores. Press play, close your eyes, and find yourself transported back to a different time and a distant, old world.