Dusted Reviews

The Iditarod - Yuletide

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Iditarod

Album: Yuletide

Label: Camera Obscura

Review date: Mar. 17, 2004

A double album dedicated solely to songs for the season of goodwill may seem to some a tad excessive, maybe even a little misplaced in this loveless world (as I am writing fours trains in Madrid are bombed, killing hundreds), but for Baltimore based folkies, The Iditarod, this is a labor of love, an act of pagan devotion. As the comprehensive liner notes explain: “a celebration of the turning of the year, darkness, cold, snow, death, re-birth.”

The songs compiled here originally appeared on several special end-of-year recordings, given away as gifts for friends and family. This seems a fitting way for the group to bow out, for this is their final, posthumous release – a collection of tunes for the people they love, about a time that must hold many shared and treasured memories.

Unlike fellow US folk adventurers Pelt and their ilk, who primarily worship at the temple of Takoma and Messrs. Fahey and Basho, The Iditarod’s roots are firmly entrenched in British soil. Carin Wagner’s delicate, childlike voice (sometimes wavering to the point of distraction) is a direct descendent of that of Anne Briggs or maybe a more lively Shirley Collins, uttering words with an enchanting innocence. Both Wagner and partner Jeffrey Alexander use a motley assortment of traditional instrumentation to plough their musical furrow and then combine these with a flourish of modernism, such as sampled recordings of environmental textures – the crackle of a log fire, the sound of church and sleigh bell – to provide an evocative setting in which the songs themselves may dwell.

Traditional solstice favorites combine elegantly with their own arrangements and self-penned originals to comprise an enchanting legacy, by a band that shall be sorely missed.

By Spencer Grady

Other Reviews of The Iditarod

The Ghost, the Elf, the Cat and the Angel

Read More

View all articles by Spencer Grady

Find out more about Camera Obscura

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.