Review | Songlines

The Guesthouse Sessions

Rating: ★★★

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Album and Artist Details




Trad Records


Lockdown has proved a rich creative experience for the Belgian bal folk duo, diatonic accordionists Pascale Rubens and Toon Van Mierlo.

Naragonia have been around for 18 years, with an established reputation on the Belgian and European bal folk scene. They decided to phone up some of the many musical friends they've made over the years and get them – in the spirit of these post-pandemic times – in for a jam. Many of the collaborators appeared on their last record, such as members of the extended Van Mierlo family, trumpeter Mathijs and vocalist Charlotte, and saxophonist Philippe Laloy, pianist Véronique Rubens and guitarist Maarten Decombel.

The regulars make it questionable how much of a new project The Guesthouse Sessions actually is, but the spirit of these bal folk stalwarts is certainly not diminished by the passing years. They continue to create a rich, varied soundscape that is unafraid to explore new textures and styles, as on the pulsating, souring ‘Alio’ with its trembling, discordant guitar and shimmering percussion, and the cinematic, avant-garde accordion sounds of ‘FC Burns’.

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