That segued right into one of the most refreshing sets I saw all week. Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards of Cambridge, Massachusetts, head-faked me into thinking they would be a swingy retro quartet, when in fact they're out there on the searching edge of chamber folk and minimalist pulse grass. From the risk of opening with an emotional four-way harmony ballad to the serene beauty of "California Is Calling" (the title track to an upcoming album that's been featured on the Bluegrass Situation), their close and complex harmonies and imaginative arrangements signified the best of folk right now.
folk luminary, Laura Cortese
an unlikely heaven-sent artistic collision between Jackie Oates, Scott Skinner and ELO.
You know it's been a great gig when time flashes by and the mesmerised audience sits glued to their seats, even after two encores.
powerful, gutsy and almost certainly going to make musical waves.
a celebration of American string playing par excellence
...a fantastic fiddle player and vivacious vocalist.
Her string-centric, ambient-minded, fiddle pop has a darkness, an edge, and a passion...
Cortese crafts an acoustic wall of sound that propels her confident vocal delivery.
This is potent, rich music that demands repeated listening.
The title track is a tour de force of writing, performance, production, everything - a tune that can be played on commercial, public, and community radio from pop to folk to trad.
the results are sublime: hearty vocals over rich, poppy layers of fiddlefolk, kickdrums, and harmony that make the heart sing and the feet ache to move, with a contemporary mix of traditional, classical, and indie elements that speak to Cortese's easy confidence at the crossroads of what modern folk is, and can be, at its best.
"Into The Dark," a fiddle-drenched, Americana gem
grounded in the lush, joyous, gleeful sound of the collaborative at work and play, and built around Cortese's full-bodied, percussive, lusty fiddlework, her hearty yet oh-so-feminine vocals, and her playful, surprisingly deep songwriting.
Cortese's mix of modern and traditional styles creates an explosive sound that favors melody and rhythm over overtly technical performances. The momentum in songs like "Blow the Candle Out" propels the listener to a giddy plane where dancing is mandatory.
Ambition often follows talent, and Laura Cortese has an embarrassment of both. Her open-armed approach to her art reveals a determination to spread the word about folk music and dance without watering down their distinctiveness.
"Even The Lost Creek," a beautiful, spirited album
"Even the Lost Creek" - her engaging, transfixing pop-folk debut.
Cortese's rich alto voice colors the Scottish and English traditional songs with very contemporary tonality and phrasing. She makes no attempt to imitate the antique feel of the Lomax field recordings, where she found several of them. Corey DiMario's jazz background ensures that where is present, there will be groove. Cortese is Berklee-trained, and perhaps that contributes to the concision and balance of her fiddling, whether she's blowing through the "West Mabou Reel" or "Devil in the Kitchen" at top speed or arabesqueing around the cello in "Hielen Laddie" and "The Mist Covered Mountains."
"Without surrendering the melodic grace that makes Celtic music so captivating, she coaxed ambient, techno-smart brush strokes from her fiddle."
"Technically brilliant yet warmhearted fiddling - sprinkled with urbane splashes off cool jazz and hot pop."