Duo Woodlands: Justyna Krzyżanowska, harp, and Kristina Leesik, violin. Self-released, 2020.

The debut album by Duo Woodlands simply called Woodlands is more than the sum of its parts. I mean, from the first track, you begin to wonder if there are more than just two performers, but violinist Kristina Leesik and harpist Justyna Krzyżanowska create a roomful of sound where Scottish meets Irish and a wee bit of pop finds its way into the mix—and this is what happens when you take exceptionally trained classical musicians and drop them into the folk world: a synergy that’s electric. There’s definitely a sweep to the album from the opening tantalizing blue chords, slapped lightly in the harp, and a sultry violin winking, as if to say, “Look what I can do!” Add smooth vocals, and it’s absolute magic. Their arrangements are filled with clever twists, like giving the repeating rhythm to the violin and allowing the harp to blossom in melody out of it in Krzyżanowska’s original Pastellskyar, or in Enhörningen, when the soporific simplicity underscores the sweet butteriness of the two high voices. Perhaps they shine best when playing all-out reels like Dolina MacKay by John Scott, the sizzle of the violin on a bed of jazz-infused rhythms in the harp that metamorphose into a strummed guitar. This is an album that will get a lot of play!