Sweet Spot
Fiddle First Music 001

As anyone who has ever picked up an instrument knows, taking it to the next level happens in bursts rather than steady increments. For years I’ve enjoyed Western Massachusetts-based fiddler Katherine First as she played at pub sessions and with a local Celtic rock band. Her debut solo album, however, took me from admiration to awe. She’s always been technically proficient, as befits someone who grew up playing classical music, but if you want to hear why Celtic musicians go to sessions to hone their craft, this album reveals the answer. Skilled Celtic musicians play tunes from inside (the tradition) out (to an audience), whereas mere technicians do the opposite. First’s sensitive cover of “The Island of the Woods” captures the lyrical elegance of Liz Carroll’s original, yet puts First’s own stamp on it in ways that embody deep familiarity with how tunes circulate in the folk community. In like fashion, her original material is at once timeless and innovative. You’ll also hear fresh takes on tunes penned by
Phil Cunningham, Dave Richardson, Maurice Lennon, and Peter Ostroushko. Katherine First has taken her music to the next level, and even greater things are yet to come.

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