Prepare yourself for big things from Little Hinges, aptly named by Canada’s Qristina & Quinn Bachand after the adage, “big doors swing on little hinges”. Energetically embraced by the industry, this symbiotic brother-and-sister talent-trust has earned recognition around the world with awards from Irish Music (Top Duo, Top Traditional Group), recent nominations from the Canadian Folk Music and Western Canadian Music Awards. Quinn’s recent gypsy-jazz side project, Brishen, has earned the prolific stringmeister an additional quinn-tet of nominations and awards.
Little Hinges opens the door even further, illuminating the two sides of their passionate grasp of Celtic music – the traditional and the more experimental– elevating them to new heights. This becomes clear in the opening strains of “Introduction” – a complex soundscape constructed from other-worldly, introspective elements of multiple instruments, foreshadowing what will follow. This release can be seen as two halves, separated by the palette-cleansing title track, with its eerie ambience and moody reflection.
This third release also heralds the debut of Quinn’s singing voice, together with his astonishing ability to master over a dozen instruments in the making of this record, added hand-in-glove to Qristina’s bewitching vocals and master fiddling. The first half launches with Qristina’s fiddle and Joby Baker’s percussion for the rousing “The Reunion”, Quinn doubling up on fiddle and supportive guitar. The crystalline quality of Qristina’s vocal on Si Kahn’s “What You Do With What You’ve Got” is a highlight, propelled by Quinn’s bright-eyed acoustic accompaniment and a teasing blast of his sister’s fiddling prowess. The mournful “Crooked Jack” is a true highlight, featuring the purity of Qristina’s vocal, Joby’s speaker-jarring percussion, Quinn’s clawhammer banjo and guitar and a paint-can-drum loop by the late Josh Dixon.
That their hearts are invested in the traditional is underlined by the beguiling original, “The Bachand Jigs” – dedicated to their parents. Effervescence doesn’t quite cover it as this spry, dual fiddle assault builds from gentle beginnings to, with the help of acoustic guitar and tenor banjo, a sweeping, full-fledged family reunion.
Contrast this with the mystical “Hang Me”, with its processed vocals and ethereal mix of strings and keyboard. Or drink in the otherworldly “Saint Nothing” – transposing its dark content against the sfx of a thunderstorm. Savour Qristina’s delicate vocal on the original “Listen”, set to glockenspiel and Quinn’s devil-speak, distorted guitar breaks, before cutting to the gothic-sounding “Never Goodbye” – as haunting a fiddle-led soundtrack to the supernatural as the equally black “Three Little Babes”.
Qristina & Quinn have served notice that their innovative approach to traditional Celtic music embodies countless moods and as many colours. As such, Little Hinges swings the door wide open with its boundless quest for adventure.