Thursday, May 28, 2015

CD Review - European Band HATFUL of RAIN - Way Up On The Hill

By: Niall Toner

When it comes to naming a Band, folks seem to be getting more and more creative, and this group of fine Musicians from Brighton in England, are certainly no exception. 

Hatful Of Rain are a four piece outfit who perform Old Time style Music, for the most part composed by the Band themselves, and to a very high standard indeed. 

Chloe Overton sings in a pure, clear voice, reminiscent of some of the best from the US, but her voice is distinctly her own, and is shown to great advantage on their current CD, WAY UP ON THE HILL. Chloe also plays Mandolin and Guitar, and on this title track, Phil Jones contributes very tasty Clawhammer Banjo. This track would not sound out of place on any Appalachian String Band Album.

On "Strawberry Leaves", the Band swings very nicely into Red Clay Rambler/Fuzzy Mountain String Band style, with very tasty contributions from all members, sounding very cohesive, and also giving the distinct impression that they are really enjoying playing in this genre.

"Trafalgar Road" is an original instrumental, led by a Mandolin/ Fiddle duet that emulates the sound of some of the more traditional tunes like "Sally Goodin" and "Arkansas Traveller", but with a distinctive' English' feel. This is not a criticism, just an observation, in fact a compliment, as it shows that HOR have the courage to forge their own sound, while still keeping within the tradition.

"Rockin' Chair Daddy" is full-on, up-tempo and rootsy, and shows a talent for playing stuff that could well work for a dancing audience. There's also a re-worked version of "Angelina Baker", which sounds to my ear to be based on "Angeline The Baker", but has some nice twists that give this track a freshness that excites.

All-in-all, this is a fine Album. It's not Bluegrass, in the strict sense, though there are some nice touches of Scruggs style Banjo on some tracks, but it does illustrate, very well, the fact that original Songs and Tunes in hardcore Old Time style, are not necessarily born below the Mason Dixon line. Comparisons with Ireland's I Draw Slow, are inevitable, but check this fine Band out for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Niall Toner, May, 2015.

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