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Clippings 2009

Sing Out! – CD Review / By Mike Regenstreif, May 2009

Verch’s reputation in the folk and roots music world was initially as a world-class fiddler, specializing in the music of the Ottawa Valley, who also drew all kinds of folk, Celtic, bluegrass and even international influences into her playing. In recent years, she has begun to sing more. Her appealing folk-pop vocals dominate this album, although she does cut loose with a few terrific instrumentals. Comparisons to Alison Krauss are probably inevitable, but Krauss’s legions of fans would certainly appreciate April’s approach and selection of material. Verch’s touring band, along with cameos from a few Nashville friends, provide her with excellent support. – CD Review / Jill LaBrack, April 2009

The great thing about some folk and country records is the dichotomy. The cover will feature a smiling, beatific face while the songs parlay into desperation, mortality, and ill-advised situations. A gifted artist can go one step further by swinging that division back around. They can make all this life heartbreak sound appealing, even necessary. April Verch is proving herself to be precisely one of these artists.

Steal the Blue, Verch’s fourth release (and first that should be filed under ‘country’ instead of ‘folk’), is the first to truly let her vocals soar. Her last releases were heavy on instrumentals and her virtuosic ability with a fiddle. By letting her voice-a smooth mix of Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton-take the reins, the fiddle may step into the background, but that only makes it more pronounced upon arrival. It’s in the contrast of the sounds that it is raised to the forefront but it’s also more than that. Verch is a master of subtlety and precision. She doesn’t over-sing, or over-play, although it’s plain she could easily do both. Add to this the ace production by Stephen Mougin and Jon Weisberger, and Steal the Blue should easily qualify as one of the best country music releases of 2009.

It’s easy to hear the influence of Alison Krauss on April Verch, but what gives her a compelling edge (much like Krauss) is the digestion of what is old. It is tradition that she stands upon. There’s an inherent lonely sound that emanates from the fiddle (something about the crying, almost hysterical sound of the strings) and the best players know how to evoke this without turning their back on the playfulness of the instrument. This is displayed best, and in layers, on the opening track, “Slip Away”. The narrator is determined to live in the present but along with that statement of belief arrives the corollary which is “Oh these days are gonna slip away / They’ll be gone before you know it”. Verch makes promises to the present while the soon-to-be-past creeps in. The fiddle dances in and out sounding like a mournful dancer.

“Long Way Home”, written by the splendid Hayes Carll, is nearly perfect. Each note resonates as Verch wraps her lovely voice around the bittersweet lyrics: “I would give anything / One more night to learn / One last song to sing”. The fiddle plays around the melody, contextualizing the atmosphere of regret against the chorus’s affirmation that we all are merely trying our best. “My Friend Craig” is one of the few instrumentals, and it stands out as record of what Verch can do with a piece of stringed wood. Her playing is all over the place and yet never slides out of her control. It’s spirited and haunting and one of the stellar tracks.

But what allows Steal the Blue to stand out from the pack is the aforementioned dichotomy of the thing. Put this on in the background and it will be another pretty, impressive country/bluegrass records. Sit down and listen to the words and it becomes something larger than that. There is pain and wandering lost here. There are worries. There is reaching out to people who will never respond. In the end, Verch uses her voice and fiddle to create a world. It’s not about the smile she possesses in the photographs but after hearing her version of it, you may give in and decide it may as well be.

Bluegrass Unlimited – CD Review / April 2009

When one’s recording career has started as early as that of April Verch, it’s always fascinating to see in what directions their path leads them. The Ottawa Valley native still includes four instrumental fiddle tunes on her new release, drawing on Canadian traditions for her medley of “Reel Tadoussac” and “Reel Lindbergh,” fiery twisting newgrass on Taylor Buckley’s composition “My Friend Craig,” oldtime/bluegrass by way of Owen Chapman and John Hartford on the medley “Fork Creek River,” and her own original waltz, “Independence, VA.”

Her principal identity now seems to be as a finder and interpreter of wistful and evocative songs. While there’s the risk of parallels being drawn to the career arc of Alison Krauss, the young Canadian’s ear for what makes a good song and her growing ability to inhabit its soul allows her individuality to emerge. Her band’s instrumentation avoids retracing Union Station’s welltrodden path, with only a slight bluegrass influence and the occasional appearance of husband Marc Bru’s light deft percussion. 

Interestingly, her closest dalliance with straightahead bluegrass on this album is the gospel number “He’s Holding On To Me” from the pen of Ron Block and features guest appearances by Scott Vestal on banjo and Sam Bush.

A good singer lives or dies on the strength of her songs, and some fine writers help lift her to new heights. Unlike her album of a few years back, “Take Me Back,” which leaned heavily on a large number of songs by Julie Miller and Claire Lynch, “Steal The Blue” draws from a broad range of some of the best of today’s new bluegrassandbeyond songwriters: Tim Stafford, Steve Gulley, Mark Simos, Larry Cordle, Jon Weisberger, and country music’s Hayes Carll as well. The net result is an effective, cohesive, and moving collection of songs spotlighting a musician who’s carved out her own niche in contemporary acoustic music.

All Music Guide – CD Review / Rick Anderson, February 28, 2009

On her fourth album, singer and fiddler April Verch seems to be slipping ever farther away from her Canadian roots. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – she’s never been a regional purist, and more power to her – but the more she starts sounding like Alison Krauss circa 1990 the more you may find you start missing those great crooked reel sets and step-dance tunes that she used to play like no one else.
On the other hand, there’s no denying the charms of her gossamer voice, the creamy vocal harmonies, and the straight-ahead country love songs (couched in bluegrassy arrangements) that are increasingly taking over.

“Slip Away”, the gorgeous gospel song “He’s Holding on to Me”, and the “she’s leaving home” weeper “The Last Greyhound” are all undeniably lovely, and the few instrumental tracks are all winners as well: the progressive acoustic bluegrass of “My Friend Craig” and a sweet waltz titled “Independence, VA” are both excellent – but the album’s highlight is its final track, a wonderful set of Quebec reels “Tadoussac” and “Lindbergh”. Here’s hoping there’s at least one such set on every album April Verch makes from here on out. – CD Review / by David McGee, February, 2009

April Verch’s high, sweet voice sounds so childlike it’s hard to imagine she’s not a contemporary of 17-year-old Sierra Hull, to whom she bears so close a vocal resemblance (and both, in turn, pay homage to Alison Krauss with their every keening note). But Ms. Verch, now nearing 30, has been performing for 20-some years, starting as a 10-year-old in her native Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, and had released two albums (1992’s Springtime and 1995’s Fiddle Talk) and become used to winning fiddle and dance contests on a regular basis by the time she graduated from high school and matriculated to Berklee School of Music. Signing with Rounder in 2000, her first release, Verchuosity, served notice of what would be on display when the disc was cued up, but it wasn’t until 2003’s From Where I Stand that most fans learned she had a voice that sounded like angels’ Heavenly chimes. Six years down the road, she’s crafted a mature, striking album full of heart and heartbreak, wondrous and nuanced instrumental work and rich, rustic textures. Produced by a couple of her former band members, Stephen Mougin and Jon Weisberger, Steal the Blue is indeed “blue,” and manages the neat trick of stealing a listener’s heart with each new song. Should any critic grouse about Ms. Verch sounding too much like Ms. Krauss, pay the complainant no mind–when you can get deep enough into a lyric to make it seem as personally revealing as this artist does, you are blessed with a singular gift.

Wending one’s way through Steal the Blue, it seems as if heartache is all about the land, but it’s not consuming our heroine–witness Craig Market & Tim Stafford’s poignant “The Last Greyhound.” All close, affecting harmony and swirling dobro lines, it tells the tale of a young girl leaving home for the first time, traveling the world and finding out that there’s no place like home, as she returns on that same grey dog to reclaim her heart’s content. “You Hurt Me All Over Again,” anotherTim Stafford co-write, this time with Steve Gulley, is a heartbreaker chronicling the lingering devastation of a post-breakup hurt; with a classic country melody mated to rustic mountain balladry, Verch cries out the lyrics, completely open and vulnerable in a haunting performance that balances winsome resignation with seething anger. In “The Lonely Road Back Home” by Mark Simos and Jon Weisberger, Verch laments the paramour who left her bereft and lonely; but as the song develops she grows into a recognition that the signs of flight were all around her, had she paid attention, and the story ends with Verch expressing something like resilience and a resolve to move on, wiser if scarred.

In the context of these blue moments, four instrumentals do the job of lightening the mood. The jig “Fork Creek River” is a theme and variation piece of unbridled high spirits wherein Verch alternates long, crooning sweeps of her bow with crisp, sharp melodic thrusts. Taylor Buckley’s “My Friend Craig” is fiddle and mandolin showcase, the instrumentalists dancing gaily around the melody as percussionist Marc Bru thumps out a lively beat behind them. “Independence,” Verch’s original instrumental, is a ruminative, keening waltz, tear-stained and aching, that illustrates how in the right hands the fiddle can cut right through your heart when the melody’s just right. And she closes things out on an upbeat note resonant of the fiddle tradition of Canada’s Cape Breton tradition (see Natalie MacMaster for the contemporary sine qua non of this style), “Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh,” a traditional toe-tapper with Verch and percussionist Marc Bru in a festive instrumental dialogue (which includes a taste of “Turkey In the Straw” in Verch’s fiddle solos) that leaps and darts all over the track in an rousing, jubilant celebration.

The penultimate number, though, sets up the lighthearted coda of “Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh,” by bringing on an all-star lineup to sing the Lord’s praises with life affirming conviction. “He’s Holding On To Me,” by Union Station’s Ron Block, is a brisk, joyous spiritual number extolling the strength accruing to those who put their faith in Jesus as they make their way through the world, with beautiful group harmony and Scott Vestal pitching in with a lively, song-length banjo solo, plus Sam Bush on mandolin, Jon Weisberger on bass, Stephen Mougin on guitar, with Patty Mitchell and Travis Book comprising the hallelujah chorus with Verch. The place where this ends is where the soul never dies.

Sun Chronicle – CD Review / by Rick Foster, February 19, 2009

When ethereal-voiced Verch said she wanted to make a record a new CD, half of Nasvhille seemed to come out in support with offers of songs, arrangements and backing tracks.

Verch, who has blossomed from a Canadian fiddle champ and stepdancer into a triple threat entertainer, is deserving of the attention. The album sounds by turns nostalgic, inspired and true to tradition. Verch’s rendition of Ronnie Block’s gospel tune “He’s Holding On To Me” captures the spirit of it all, and Verch’s fiddling, along with contributions by a bevy of singers, banjo players, guitarists and mandolinists, does the rest.

Anyone who’s witnessed one of Verch’s performances, and many who haven’t, will instantly appreciate “Steal The Blue”. Those who have had to follow one of her performances with one of their own, as I have, will be awed.

Vintage Guitar Magazine – Hit List / by SS, April 2009 Vol. 23 No. 6

April Verch’s voice has the sonic qualities of a naked clarinet reed – it cuts through like a hot poker applied to an old piece of newspaper. Fans of traditional country will feel at home with her Dolly Parton-like timbre, but fans of modern country may not be quite as enamored by her old-style tone. Though her vocals may polarize, all will love Verch’s fiddle playing. Her style, technique and sheer virtuosity rivals anyone who’s ever held a bow.

A child prodigy, fiddle contest winner, Berklee School of Music graduate, and Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion, Verch is capable of delivering a variety of material from Carter Family classics to contemporary songs with verve and innovative energy. Steal The Blue, which is on her own label, Slab Town Records, displays those styles; gospel on “He’s Holding Onto Me,” modern bluegrass on “Might Have One Too” and “You Hurt Me All Over Again,” singer/songwriter material on “Slip Away” and “Some People,” traditional fiddle on “Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh,” and an original instrumental, “Independence.” In every case, Verch brings a unique mix of old-fashioned and modern sensibilities to make every song special.

Recorded by banjo virtuoso Scott Vestal and produced by Stephen Mougin, Steal The Blue features guest appearances by Sam Bush on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on dobro, and Melonie Cannon and Travis Book on harmony vocals. The arrangements and recording quality throughout are impeccable.

No – CD Review / by David Baxter, January 26, 2009

You may not recognize the name, but seven albums into a sixteen-year career, Canadian musician April Verch has gained an audience far beyond her native Ottawa Valley. The accomplished fiddler and stepdancer brings a wealth of talent and creativity to her latest release, on which she’s supported by an impressive cast of acoustic musicians and songwriters.

Verch’s voice has a clear, distinctive quality reminiscent enough of Claire Lynch that I stopped to check the liner notes for guest-vocal credits. (Plenty of guests, but no Claire Lynch.) For an artist known for her instrumental prowess, the focus here is as much on the songs as on the playing. There are tracks from Tim Stafford, Larry Cordle, and Ron Block, all respected bluegrass songwriters. But the real shining stars here are “Slip Away” and “Some People”, written, respectively, by relative newcomers Sarah Pirkle and Sarah Siskind. The best surprise, perhaps, is “Long Way Home” from Americana mainstay Hayes Carll.

Producers Stephen Mougin (of Sam Bush’s band) and Jon Weisberger (Verch’s former bandmate) weave in Celtic jigs, reels and waltzes with the newer material to create a tapestry of rich sounds. When the song calls for it – as on “Fork Creek River” and “Independence, VA” – the instrumentation is pared down and sparse. Other tracks feature soaring harmonies and instrumental support from the likes of Bush, Scott Vestal, and Randy Kohrs. Verch’s bright voice and supple fiddling are the threads that bind it all together. – CD Review / by Jerome Clark, January 2009

Somehow, I managed to miss April Verch’s Rounder recordings, which brought this young Ontario-born and -bred fiddler (now in her late 20s) attention and acclaim. Or so I learned, anyway, from the reviews I saw. My own listening-informed judgment starts with Steal the Blue, the newest development in her post-Rounder career.

Sensitively produced by Jon Weisberger (music journalist and former band member) and Stephen Mougin, Blue has a striking, crisp sound. The arrangements are lovely. Verch is a superbly able fiddler in the Canadian folk, as opposed to American country and bluegrass, tradition. To my taste, the fiddle tunes, comprising about half of the disc, are the best — well, the better –  part. In fact, Blue gives one – well, me– the impression of being two albums, one for devotees of Celtic- and French-Canadian-flavored fiddle music, the other, where Verch sings (with technical perfection) in an atmospheric little-girl’s soprano, for lovers of Alison Krauss’s brand of acoustic country and bluegrass-pop.

I really like the fiddle tunes, and I am moved by what Verch does with them, which is to cause the hair on one’s – well, my – back to rise. As for the songs … mmm. … Now, here, let us agree there is room for discussion. We reviewers, who in our self-inflated moments like to think of ourselves as “critics,” are here to deliver confident, no-nonsense pronouncements on the worth of a particular musical product. I’m sure you expect no less of us. If we like it, you are to believe, it is objectively good. And if we don’t, save your money and time, and yes, we’ll accept your thanks. With blushing modesty, of course.

But seriously, folks: The fact of the matter is that while I respect Krauss’s considerable talent (I’d have to be an idiot or a bigot not to), my enthusiasm for her bluegrass-pop and pure pop hovers close to zero on my personal appreciation scale. That doesn’t mean — let me hastily insert here – that therefore I hold it and her unworthy. It just means that the approach is not to my taste and really, I ought to leave it to others, more sympathetic to this sort of thing, to judge for themselves. To my ear, no scientifically neutral instrument, the songs (written mostly by Nashville professionals in the cases of both Krauss and Verch) sound melodically thin and thematically trite; i.e, standard-issue relationship laments and celebrations. When Krauss has excellent material — of the sort that dusts up her justly praised and hugely popular collaboration with Robert Plant, Raising Sand — then I take notice, and I get happy.

Verch is one more gifted young woman, raised on bluegrass, folk and country, who’s heading down the acoustic-pop route pioneered by Krauss. If you want to travel with her, it’s your bus fare. I expect that you’ll enjoy the ride and the scenery. As for me, I kind of like Hayes Carll’s “Long Way Home,” which is kind of pretty, and with a different singer and a different arrangement Larry Cordle and Erin Enderlin’s “I Might Have One Too” could be a hard-hitting, hard-country song. Beyond that, it’s your call. more>>

Inside World Music – CD Review / by Matt Forss, January 2009

Canadian-fiddler, April Verch, presents us with another remarkable album of music. Her previous releases have focused primarily in the fiddling traditions of the Ottawa Valley. However, Steal The Blue is mostly an exploration through the folk fiddling traditions of America’s South, or Appalachian region. The only track reminiscent of the Ottawa Valley is track twelve (“Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh”). Yet, it doesn’t seem to matter what type of music April plays – it is always a top-notch toe-tapping delicacy for the ears. Also, April lends her sweet and soft vocals on several tracks. Her voice and fiddle are joined by her husband, Marc Bru on bodhran/percussion, along with others on mandolin, banjo, bass, and guitar. Steal The Blue is an album of vocal harmonies, old-time fiddling, and good ‘ol stories that penetrate one’s soul and leave a soothing and memorable effect. I give it a standing ovation! more>>

Bend Bulletin – CD Review / by Keith Lawrence, January 2009

You might not have heard of April Verch yet, but chances are, you’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the future. The Canadian fiddle player and stepdancer is moving into bluegrass in a big way with “Steal The Blue.” The album, which hits stores on Jan. 20, is a good collection of modern bluegrass and old-time fiddle tunes.

Publicists describe Verch’s voice as “winsome,” but don’t let that fool you. She can wail too. Just listen to “I Might Have One Too” – when her lover tells her that he had a good reason to cheat, she replies with the song’s title. The song deserves more radio play than it will likely get. “Slip Away” is a song about spending time with family because “these days will slip away.” “Some People” is a ballad about loving someone who has hurt you and “The Last Greyhound” is about leaving home to find something that was there all the time. Verch wrote “Independence, Va.,” a slow fiddle tune. Three other fiddle tunes are also featured – “My Friend Craig,” “Fork Creek River” and “Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh.” – CD Review / by Jeff Eason, January 2009

Now that Alison Krauss has taken a hiatus from her band Union Station to pursue a duo act with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, the sweepstakes are open to find the next queen of Americana music. You could a lot worse than to nominate April Verch, a Canadian singer and fiddler who has been performing since she was six years old.

April Verch’s latest album, the wonderful Steal the Blue, borrows heavily from the Krauss’ early ballad-heavy style punctuated by beautifully recorded acoustic instruments. Known primarily as a fiddler and step-dancer earlier in her career, Steal the Blue marks the coming out party for Verch as a lead vocalist, and she makes the most of her moment in the spotlight.

The album opens with two sweet ballads-“Slip Away,” written by Sarah Pirkle and “Some People,” written by Sarah Siskind-that show off the emotional and tonal range of Verch’s voice. As a way of reminding her fans of how she started her career, she then breaks into the Celtic-inspired instrumental “My Friend Craig,” where she burns up the fiddle.

Verch’s selection of covers is immaculate. She taps rough-around-the-edges songwriter Hayes Carll for a wonderful version of his “Long Way Home” and Union Station’s Ron Block for the great gospel tune “He’s Holding Onto Me.” She also cites John Hartford as the arranger on the traditional fiddle instrumental “Fork Creek River,” a move that shows that she knows how to give credit where credit is due.

Supporting Verch on the album is an intriguing mix of musical veterans and virtual newcomers. The studio tracks include contributions from Sam Bush on mandolin, Scott Vestal on banjo, Jon Weisberger on bass, Marc Bru on percussion, Isaac Callendar on guitar, Cody Walters on bass and Randy Kohrs on resophonic guitar.

Verch tackles this new stage of her young career with a verve that is contagious. A seasoned live performer, she makes every concert a memorable one by filtering little snippets of pop and jazz into the traditional Canadian fiddle styles.

The Boston Globe wrote, “Among the most promising new fiddlers in roots music today…Verch is never afraid to lace her playing with clever twists of bluegrass, blues and pop.” Added All, “She jumps from one style to another, skirling out a vigorous set of jigs or crooked French reels one minute, then delivering a jazzy original tune or a straight-up country weeper the next.” more>>

Hartford Courant – CD Review / by Thomas Kintner, January 20, 2009

Her reputations as a fiddler and step dancer precede her, but April Verch’s musical repertoire extends well beyond those niches even as it continues to build on their appeals. The Canadian’s seventh album, “Steal the Blue,” splashes sprightly sawing and occasional kinetic pulse beats onto a sweet-sounding folk bluegrass palette, and coalesces into accessible, gently contoured tunes.

Verch’s appeal is simple and substantive, straight-on tunesmithing that ably navigates the bluegrass-flecked desire of “Some People” and the slow squeeze of pain in “You Hurt Me All Over Again,” wrapping each sentiment in tasteful acoustic frameworks. Those homespun backdrops are complemented by a voice that is pretty and pristine, an almost meek, mountain-style exhale that flows alongside the poised pulse of “Slip Away” and oozes delicate nostalgia as counterpart to the soft fiddle whine of “Long Way Home.”

She balances the restraint of her ballads with colorful instrumental workouts, her nimble fiddling driving the juicy country ramble “My Friend Craig” and dancing atop the taut but comfortable instrumental “Fork Creek River.” Her arrangements are focused and precise even when bounding through the mandolin-dressed gospel of “He’s Holding on to Me,” but even her most refined moments retain a distinctive down-to-earth charm. more>>

The News & Observer (NC) – CD Review / by Jack Bernhardt, January 18, 2009

Canadian fiddler and step dancer April Verch is one of the most versatile artists of traditional music’s new breed. While she invites comparisons to Alison Krauss and Natalie McMaster, Verch has made her own way as Canadian Grand Master Fiddle champion and Canadian Open Fiddle champion.

“Steal the Blue” (Slab Town) showcases her virtuosity with an array of tunes and songs ranging from bluegrass and newgrass to folk and Celtic styles, with flourishes of jazz. In her late 20s, Verch sings with a stark intensity that seems to echo the fire in her fiddle. She treads both sides of love and loneliness with sorrow and resolve. The CD’s 12 tracks reflect the focus of the album’s producers, bluegrassers Jon Weisberger and Stephen Mougin. Songs from Sarah Pirkle (“Slip Away”), Larry Cordle and Erin Enderlin (“Might Have One Too”), Ron Block (“He’s Holding on to Me”), and Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford (“You Hurt Me All Over Again”) impart a contemporary feel to the project.

Verch offers snapshot of musical journey / by Serena Markstrom, The Register Herald (Eugene, OR) January 16, 2009

It did not hurt that the first time I played without distraction April Verch’s new album, “Steal the Blue,” I was at a house on the McKenzie River getting ready for Christmas. The recording is as clear and refreshing as the snowy mountain air we were breathing. Later, when I had a chance to speak with Verch about the project, she said it represents a new direction for her. Instead of trying to satisfy different segments of her audience, she recorded to her personal taste. And that approach translated well to her folk, Celtic and bluegrass fans.

“I was just in a really comfortable place in my career when it was time to record,” the 30-year-old fiddler, singer and step dancer said just before leaving Canada for her tour. “I decided what I really wanted to do was make an album that just represents what I’m into right now, something that I would want to put in my CD player on a day off and listen to.”

Back in the valley and in my cluttered office cubicle, the album – and especially the first track, “Slip Away” – still transports me to a different place. A better place. “Well, I’m headed to the river with that darling of mine/ Won’t that muddy water feel fine,” are the opening lines on Verch’s first independent release since high school. “We probably should be working, because we’ve got bills to pay/ But oh, these days are going to slip away.” The song, penned by fellow fiddler Sarah Pirkle, has an optimistic tone, filled with wonderment over the simple things in life. The album pairs a little bitter with that sweet, as on “I Might Have One Too,” about infidelity.

Verch records a gospel number each album, and this time it’s “He’s Holding On to Me” by Ron Block. She said it’s the most “bluegrassy” thing she has ever recorded. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to make it such a different direction; it just turned out that’s what I am passionate about right now,” she said. “I used to listen to a lot more instrumental and a lot of bluegrass. “I still do listen to those styles, but I also listen to a bit more singer-songwriter stuff. Patty Griffin, Sarah Siskind and just some really great writers.”

Feeling a song coming on | Verch started step dancing at the age of 3, and she still works that skill into her stage shows and recordings. The fiddle also features prominently in her career; she started that young as well, when her parents bought her an instrument at age 6. Verch said she considers herself a fiddler above all else, but has come to truly love singing. Although she chose the touring musician route over finishing her training at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she has continued her whole professional career to work as an arranger and composer.

“Steal the Blue” has one original composition, “Independence, Va.” Verch does not rule out one day writing more of her own songs. But she said she doesn’t have the time to dedicate to learning a new craft, and she’s not sure she is ready for the world to know her thoughts in that form. “It’s kind of like when I went from just fiddling to also singing,” she said. “I felt really vulnerable, and there is definitely a hurdle there. “It’s one thing to write a tune and the (listeners) interpret it however they feel. With words, it’s much more obvious what you’re getting at.”

2009 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Verch. After the American tour, she returns to Scotland for some dates. Later, she will spend six weeks on her debut tour of Australia. “Steal the Blue” is more mainstream than the three albums she released on Rounder Records, but she is not a mainstream singer. Her press bio describes her voice as “winsome,” and for the most part that fits. Even when she is singing about loneliness or betrayal, her vocals sound sweet. Although Verch is a capable vocalist, she is most compelling at expressing the sadness in her songs through her bow. Ranking her many talents is futile, though, because when you attend a concert, you experience them all. “Usually, I am making these decisions in terms of what is going to please the audience in front of me the most,” she said. “It usually ends up being a really good mix of dancing and playing and singing. “There is something for everybody, so that it’s the most entertaining it can be and people can forget their bad day.”