Varo: Self-titled review – baroque austerity reflects current Dublin scene

Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 05:00




Independent release


The delicious austerity of the baroque intertwined with an immersion in the current Dublin traditional and folk music scene underscore this fine debut from fiddle and harmony vocal duo, Varo.

Lucie Azconaga and Consuelo Nerea Breschi bring a diverse history to their debut. Azconaga draws on jazz, classical and folk music of her native France, while Breschi’s Italian roots belie a long-standing connection with Irish trad, folk and world music.

Brevity is unquestionably the soul of this duo’s musical wit. Clocking in at just under 36 minutes, with 10 tracks, Varo have distilled a rake of great ideas during the making of their debut.

Both play fiddle with a taste for bare-boned, spartan arrangements that suit their tune choices perfectly, epitomised by the gorgeous closing tune set, The rakes of Clonmel/I ne’er shall wean her.

Their use of fiddles alongside harmonium and bouzouki (from Frank Tate) on the reel, Considine’s Grove and the slow burn of their own composition, Ben Hall’s wake, with just fiddles, harmonium and wraithlike vocals carry faint echoes of Lankum, in that Varo have mastered the art of subtle layering of tunes until they find their own peak.

Helen Diamond lends beautiful guest vocals, and June Tabor’s and Anne Briggs’ back catalogue are mined for tales told from a woman’s perspective, upending convention and letting the music speak for itself. These are Varo’s defining features: and they wear them well.