Waterbound - The Fretless


When was the last time you heard something musically original? I don’t mean a fresh take on the rock combo or power trio, retro duo, singer/songwriter, global big band, DJ/sound designer, electro dance or whatever label already exists out there. When was the last time you heard someone or some people truly reinvent the wheel? While you’re struggling with that, let me tell you about The Fretless. Great name, right? Even at the outset they succeed where others creatively bog down. Their debut called Waterbound introduces us to a totally fresh idea; a Celtic chamber quartet made up of fiddles, viola and cello. The arrangement says chamber but the execution is lively as a ceildh can be. And, they get to put their own label on it, which they’ve chosen to dub ‘Rad Trad’. The Fretless are Ivonne Hernandez, violin, viola, step dancing and vocals, from Victoria, BC. Trent Freeman, violin, viola and feet, from Vancouver, BC. Karrnnel Sawitsky, violin and viola from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Eric Wright, cello, from Los Angeles. The Canadians met up through the competitive fiddle circuit and their American cousin completed group after meeting Ivonne at Berklee. Utilizing podorhythmia and a bowing technique known as chopping, the quartet adds percussive pulse to the chamber arrangement that evokes purity and modernity. Recorded in Victoria by Juno-winning producer, Joby Baker (Alex Cuba, Locarno, Tillers Folly) Waterbound is a celebration of wood and strings by our talented musicians with huge synergy and arrangement skills. I demand as solo artists and teachers, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t been playing together all their lives. Two guest vocalists make beautiful contributions to the disc. Ruth Moody from the Wailin’ Jennys melts the speakers on the lilting title track - a spectacular performance on a Dirk Powell-penned melody. Anyone who’s felt the overwhelmed by the pace of the world should listen to the poignant Karine Polwart lyric of Harder To Walk These Days Than To Run, sung by Norah Rendell. Box Man by Liz Carroll and the Iggy and Squiggy Set, a Jerry Holland personal favorite launches the disc with plenty of energy and sheer joy that earmarks every track to follow on Waterbound. It restores one’s faith that originality not only still exists but can be immediately accessible and inspirational.