Review of Keltiska Duon's debut album "The Celtic Duo" in The Living Tradition, issue nr 143, April 2022
Sweden has proven itself a worthy haven for Irish and Celtic musical forms and there have been some interesting results, especially in Gothenburg. The Celtic Duo, two singers and multi-instrumentalist, carry a rich history of combined experience and command of their instruments. Jonas Liljeström (fiddle and vocals) and Emil Pernblad (guitar), both fixtures of the Gothenburg music scene since the early 90s, started playing together in the group Celtic Connections (led by the charismatic Northern Irish expat Jonathan McCullough), and still perform together in the Romany/Gypsy trio Krilja.

With The Celtic Duo, they return to the music which first brought them together. The repertory comes from the rich Celtic folk music traditions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, mixing jigs and reels with lyrically melancholic songs and airs. However, they mix the Celtic influences with local Scandinavian touches and nuances of classical and Gypsy jazz forms. The guitar/fiddle line-up suggests ideas of duos like the late Kieran Halpin & Tom McConville and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill & Kevin Burke, though the sound is a lot more classically based and formal. The hints of classical music shining through on Neil Gow’s Lament For The Death Of His Second Wife and Jenny My Blythest Maid / Lady Cassilis Lilt show that this is a duo whose music demands to be listened to for its subtlety. The use of piano on O Carolan’s Eleanor Plunkett also upholds the formal approach, and it adds a Baroque sound to Carolans Quarrel With The Landlady. The slip jig, Captain O’Kane, is taken at a deliberate walking place while The Battle Of Aughrim march sounds speedier and more animated than normal. Likewise, Haste To The Wedding and Da Full Rigged Ship / Irish Bourrée up the ante and add some pace and urgency to the proceedings, complete with some enthusiastic Gypsy jazz flourishes.

Song wise, Spancil Hill emits a languid fluency while The Blacksmith is given a stirring treatment redolent of Andy Irvine’s version. Llangollen Market and the Australian bush ballad, Streets Of Forbes, are given suitably dramatic treatments. These add some extra balance to a package that is both sumptuous and formal but possessing a passion and excitement that befits its style and sound. In short, this is Celtic music played with a Scandinavian lilt, making it both different and yet familiar, delivered with style and panache.
John O'Regan

Review of Keltiska Duon's debut album "The Celtic Duo" in Folk London, March 2022

Review of Keltiska Duon's debut album in RnR Magazine, the spring of 2022