‘songs of the hollow’ from cua - uncompromising and innovative(February 12, 2018)
The point about anything that’s truly ‘different’ is finding that moment when unusual becomes singular rather than strange. The latest album from decidedly different band, cua (in addition to being atypical they’re averse to capital letters) is unlike anything else, indeed it’s reasonable to describe ‘songs of the hollow’ as unique. The instrumental blend is not that radical ... fiddle, guitar, bouzouki ... however the dynamic delivery of those instruments, minutiae of melody, arrangements and three-part harmonies are uncompromising and innovative. There’s obvious folk music styling, beyond that is a mix of influence that interlaces, separates and coalesces to such an extent that you keep hearing snippets of genres from traditional to innovative, moving at such a pace it’s almost impossible to pin down.
The more you listen the more you hear ... the roots of heritage, explosions of jazz with bluesy overtones, Eastern Europe mixed with Americana, free-ranging snippets of avant garde, Irish tradition from both sides of the Atlantic, acapella ... there’s a maelstrom of input. From the moment ‘Atlantic Cross’ opens the exceptional mix manifests itself, expands with ‘The Hollow Man’ and further intrigues with the acidic lyrics of ‘The Other Man’, before ‘Chest’s Final Beat’ and the rabid ‘Black Dog’ have you involved in this music. There are 15 tracks on the album each distinctive, different and equally impressive.
The album is ‘songs of the hollow’ and cua are John Davidson (fiddle, percussion, vocals) Shane Booth (guitar vocals) and Ros O’Meara (bouzouki, guitar, percussion, vocals) ... and you should look out for both.
Review: Tim Carroll