ALBUM REVIEW: Taarka – Fading Mystery

By: Jeremy Fleischer

2.5 stars out of 5

At the core of the Americana string band Taarka is Enion and David Pelta-Tiller, a talented wife-husband team from Lyons. And listening to their band’s most recent release you can get a sense for what their home must be like. The kitchen is the focal point, with drying herbs hung by coarse twine and endless loaves of seedy bread emerging from a cast iron oven. In a word, their brand of folk meets bluegrass meets a handful of other acoustic styles is “wholesome.” Of course, there is nothing innately wrong with wholesome sounding music; in fact, the world could probably use a bit of it. Perhaps it’s just me, but in contrast with the cynic’s paradise we now call reality Taarka’s music is a bit annoying. And I mean that in the best possible way. Sure, folks loved Garrison Keeler on “Prairie Home Companion,” but he had to go. The world had moved beyond Lake Wobegon, where kids don’t chuck 40 ounce bottles in the lake and guns control themselves, and his worldview, much like Taarka’s brand of acoustic music, seems fantastically pure.

I’m aware that I’m driving too hard a point with this wholesome rant. In truth, if you can overlook, or even enjoy, the chamomile tea sound this is a truly talented band. Enion’s voice is exceptional, and the playing is extraordinary. There are some stellar performances on this album, which was recorded live in a cabin along Virginia’s Potomac. The track “Polyamorous Polly Ann,” a heartfelt and yet lighthearted tale of a woman who can’t be pinned down, is a joy. I say stoke up the woodstove on a Sunday morning, light some potpourri and give it a listen if you enjoy wholesome acoustic music.