‘Songs of Love and Murder’ captivating album from Hanz Araki & Kathryn Claire(January 10, 2014)
Any album from Irish flute player Hanz Araki and guitarist, vocalist and fiddle-player Kathryn Claire deserves your ear. There’s little more captivating than listening to the delicate symbiosis between these two. And without doubt ‘Songs of Love and Murder’ is absolute evidence of that synergy and delivers everything that we would expect from this duo. Each time one of their albums arrives in the post the expectation is palpable and the fulfilment exquisite.
There’s an essential fragility and at the same time a precious potency in their music. There’s a delicacy that seeps subtly through their playing and equally there’s a life that leaps out to demand attention. The opening set of traditional jigs, collectively titled ‘I Buried My Wife and Danced on Top of Her’ and the selection of reels ‘Unlucky in Love’ are most appropriately-named given the album’s title. This collection of amorous and murderous tales of continue with the dour story of ‘Lord Thomas and Fair Elander’, the gorgeously melancholy ‘Helen of Kirkconnell’ and the gruesome tale of abject betrayal and murder that is ‘The Banks of The Roses’ – a classic folk murder-ballad if there ever was one.
There are cautionary tales like ‘Seven Gypsies’ – an oft-sung and many-versioned story – given that enchanting Araki-Claire touch and the lethal scruples ‘The Cobbler's Daughter’. There’s a splendid version of the traumatic ‘disguised-maid betrayed-lover’ tale of ‘William Taylor’ and an inspired arrangement of ‘Little Musgrave/Sword in Hand’ joining another well-known tale (widely recognised as ‘Matty Groves’) with a reel called ‘Sword in Hand’ to create something rather magical.
Find this collection of horrible tales here: thecelticconspiracy.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll