Sarah Neufeld, “The Ridge”
As an integral part of the grand ensemble that makes up Arcade Fire, violinist Sarah Neufeld skillfully hones and puts her unique stamp on their orchestrated sound. As a solo artist, Neufeld allows her violin to move center stage as she plays with undeniable passion and a quirky outlook on what alternative music can be. Neufeld’s fiddle playing is married with grander instrumental productions here than were featured on 2013’s Hero Brother. Her sophomore album feels lighter and more upbeat than that haunting, minimalist debut; layers of strings blend with heavy and daunting percussion, creating refreshing and ethereal soundscapes. Each track utilizes Neufeld’s violin differently, whether it’swith the lavish ornamentation of the LP’s title track or the echoing chants of “Chase the Bright and Burning.” While at times fragmented in pace, Neufeld manages to balance the weightiness of the arrangements with her airy and delicate vocals. The peaks of The Ridge are melodic, beautiful, and worthy of a good sonic hike.