Færd, Logbok (Tutl, 2006)

Logbok (Log Book) is a refreshing and assured sounding collection from this gifted Scandinavian ensemble. The core trio that make up Færd are violinist Peter Uhrbrand, Eskil Romme on accordion and saxophones -- both from Denmark -- and the Swedish guitar and bouzouki player, Jens Ulvsand. The guys are joined here by the Danish/Norwegian singer, Julie Hjetland, who contributes her haunting vocals on a couple of tracks.

Færd's sound is forthright and unpretentious, and whilst rooted in the Scandinavian tradition, their sound incorporates many other traditional influences. In fact, this would appear to be the whole ethos behind Logbok -- it is intended as a record of their travels and the influences they've picked up along the way.

Such is the melodic eloquence of the musicianship on Logbok, that many of the tunes carry an almost classical ambience, with fastidious execution. It's almost like listening to a chamber orchestra on tunes such as the opening set, "Finsk Brudemarsch / Rommes Polska" or the final piece in the closing set of tunes, "Kjerringe råd / Fæstemanden dor / Le Tamborin." Eskil Romme's saxophone adds great depth, with subtle jazz-tinged nuances, to the likes of "Waltz för Frieda / Poolside Polka / Da Ferrie Reel" or the beguiling "Til Carina."

The array of vocals on offer covers a whole gamut of styles, from the strong, rhythmic baritone rumblings of "Sinklars Vise," recalling a bloody massacre during a seventeenth century battle between Denmark and Sweden, to the more evocative vocals of guest-vocalist Julie Hjetland on "Kjerringe råd/Fæstemanden dor/Le Tamborin" -- with "Kjerringe råd" sounding like a particularly winsome piece, though it is actually a song about how to cure a cow of mastitis!

Logbok is impressive for its eclecticism, not just of instrumentation and vocals, but also the fine collection of material that has been garnered. Various traditions contribute to the diverse offerings here; Scottish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch -- there's even one composition that originates from New Zealand. What I find impressive here, is the way in which Færd seamlessly draw the whole lot together and present the listener with a delightfully congruent recording.

This is a recording of exquisite beauty with plenty to keep the listener engaged and enthralled throughout.