Fiddler Cady Finlayson and guitarist Vita Tanga bring two disparate locations (Brooklyn and Paris) and musical styles (traditional Celtic music and world music/electronica) together on Electric Green, a ten-song collection of mostly traditional Irish songs, with a distinctive modern twist. In most cases the violin carries the melody while the guitar, acoustic or electric, adds depth and texture. On the best numbers Tanga’s guitar seems to urge on Finlayson’s violin with a contrapuntal effect.
The electric version of “Itchy Fingers” has a funky guitar groove and vibrant fiddle. It’s a lively tune, but abruptly slows down at the end, switching from a fast twirling jig to a slow, courtly waltz. “March Set” is a moderately-paced dance, with fast bowing from Finlayson on the break and muted percussive sounds from the guitar. “Bordeaux Set” has a different feel than most other numbers; it’s slower and more reflective, with a plucked guitar that simulates chimes. The guitar anchors the high-flying fiddle part on “Heavy Metal,” which starts off fast and then takes it up a notch.
“Bass Rock” has very gentle guitar and a moderately-paced violin part. The notes are held longer, lending it a more somber tone. It is among the most lyrical tracks, a love poem of sorts, with the soft chiming of the guitar evoking images of a small waterfall or brook. “All Set for St. Pat’s”—a medley of two traditional Irish songs, “Wearing of the Green” and “Sean South,” and the original piece “Pumpkin’s Fancy”—features bagpipes and snare and is a fitting ending for the album.
While the music on Electric Green is certainly enjoyable, the lack of varied instrumentation makes the songs less distinguishable from each other; the inclusion of the Irish whistle or more bagpipes and percussion would have done a lot to vary the music. Still, while the electric component may be hard for hard-core Celtic music fans to swallow, it adds an interesting dimension to a genre with a long history.