• Review: FIFTY/50 By Christopher Davis-Shannon & Jacques Pellarin

    Honestly, I didn’t realise I needed a ukulele/accordion album until I heard FIFTY/50 in all its glory.

    I’ve been a fan of Philadelphia-based uker Christopher Davis-Shannon for a few years now, so I was intrigued when I heard he was teaming up with French accordionist Jacques Pellarin. The result is something quite extraordinary and delightfully surprising.

    The two instruments combine beautifully and neither is more dominant than the other. From the pre-war frivolity of Summer 1925 to the more introspective Media Luna and classic-sounding Lady Josephine, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The only non-instrumental track, Willow, features lovely vocals from Charlotte Pelgen, herself an excellent uke player from Germany.

    Davis-Shannon displays an impeccable sense of rhythm throughout and throws in a few flashy strokes where required, as well as some nifty picking. I don’t know a whole lot about accordion music, but it’s clear Pellarin is a master of his craft.

    Jacques and Christopher: serious musicians

    I think what I like most about this album is its authenticity. It reminds me of the stuff people were doing with the ukulele back in the ’90s and early 2000s, before the instrument was universally popular and social media algorithms were part of the consciousness. In short, it’s a little weird, in the best possible way.

    FIFTY/50 is available at Bandcamp