Ruuti (Ääniä, 2009)

Ruuti are a folk trio consisting of Kukka Lehto on fiddle and vocals, Topi Korhonen onguitar, and Ilkka Heinonen on upright bass. While they hail from Finland, the polskas and schottisches on their self-titled debut CD are arranged to sound more like the folk recordings coming out of neighboring Sweden. Instead of the "wall of fiddlers" approach embraced by more familiar Finnish bands like JPP and Frigg, Ruuti only use one instrument on melody at a time, primarily Lehto's single fiddle. Korhonen's guitar accompaniment emphasizes chords with a touch of harmony, while Heinonen's bass line keeps things moving.

With one exception, the compositions on Ruuti are original. Heinonen wrote most of the tunes, but Lehto and Korhonen contributed as well. The trio format is somewhat evocative of the Swedish group Väsen; that's not an easy comparison to live up to, but I wouldn't make it if I didn't feel Ruuti were worthy of it. Their sound is a bit jazzier and less muscular than Väsen's, but they boast a similar combination of fine melodies composed within the tradition and solid, energetic playing. Despite the slight jazz influence, Ruuti's music is quite suitable for traditional folk dancing. The polska "Veteli" and the schottishes "Ektot" and "Jorma" would fit nicely in the repertoire of my group that plays for Swedish dances on Wednesday nights. Lehto's two songs, "Onneni tähdet" and "Muutoautto" add some nice variety, as does the peculiar but intriguing Hungarian-flavored composition "Vitahousu."

Ruuti are a promising trio. Anybody looking for new tradition music from Scandinavia will find plenty to like on their CD.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

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