Fernwood is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalists Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett. The former plays Irish bouzouki, guitar, mandolin, and sitar, while the latter plays Greek bouzouki, upright and electric basses, guitar, oud, ruan, bulbul tarang, gobijen, dotara, Fender Rhodes, harmonium, and organ. The two have scored numerous film soundtracks both together and individually—and it shows. The songs are wonderfully melodic and emotionally direct, the diverse instruments are expertly layered, and dynamics are an essential aspect of the orchestrations. Acoustic stringed instruments constructed of wood predominate, and timbre and sonority suggest place and idiom as strongly as the actual compositional structures. Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and European motifs are masterfully interwoven with Americana to form a luscious yet rootsy imaginary idiom that is intriguing, uplifting, and at once familiar and exotic.—Barry Cleveland
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