Kentucky duo the Other Years evoke the rusticity of old-time music with melodic sophistication | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Kentucky duo the Other Years evoke the rusticity of old-time music with melodic sophistication 

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Other Years

Norah Kute

Louisville, Kentucky, outfit the Other Years carry on a vibrant old-time music tradition that summons the spirit and soul of rural mountain music, but the melodic sophistication and instrumental polish they bring make it sound utterly contemporary despite its appealing rusticity. The duo, composed of fiddler Anna Krippenstapel (who’s been working in Freakwater for the last few years) and guitarist Heather Summers, will release their self-titled debut on No Quarter this October. On the album the pair transmit the slack and homey charm of Michael Hurley’s “Wildegeeses,” inject their own “Sinks of Gandy” with a fiddle melody from the traditional song “Maysville,” and tackle the traditional number “Fair Ellen,” which they perform a cappella, as if sitting around their kitchen table. The rest of the repertoire is all original, but even so it feels both ancient and timeless. Summers sings lead and Krippenstapel harmonizes with a familial ease; together they evoke famous mountain-music duo Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard, without the astringent bite. That’s not to say that Summers is a pop singer, but even when she wails at full volume on the beautifully droning “Red-Tailed Hawk,” there’s a sweetness to her voice that distinguishes it from most Appalachian folk artists. The strummy “Bridges” is gorgeously embroidered by Krippenstapel’s earthy fiddle, which belies the surface simplicity with grace and harmonic richness. The duo have been attracting attention thanks in part to the embrace of fellow Kentuckians including Joan Shelley and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and the way they inject such a natural rapport into their embrace of old-school folk makes it easy to see why.  v

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