4 Stars (out of 5)
Heidi Clare Lambert is the former Heidi Andrade and the former fiddler of the former Reeltime Travelers. There’s nothing “former” about her fiddling, however. It’s in tip-top form on her debut solo release.
I Declare showcases the virtuosity that frequently kept Reeltime Travelers fans focusing stage left. Heidi Clare dazzles with speed and precision on “Rye Straw” and “Shortnin’ Bread” and soul on the solemn “Three Forks of Cheat.” She maintains her “groove” on two originals – the ebullient “Chelle’s Dance” and the sweet and mournful “Farewell to Thurber.”
What we rarely heard with the Travelers was Heidi Clare’s organic vocals. Four tracks find her channeling ballad and blues singers past, particularly on stirring versions of “Oil in My Vessel” and “Old Corn Liquor.” Her singing reveals a dimension that should aid her transition to center stage.
Will that transition transpire? The album’s stellar backers – Chris Sharp, Ed
Snodderly, former fellow Reeltime Travelers Roy Andrade and Brandon Story, and Dry Branch Fire Squad’s Ron Thomason – have their own careers. I Declare is a lovely collection. Hopefully, it’s also a declaration of a new beginning for a terrific yet still largely untapped talent.
by Tim Walsh