Described on their website as ‘a swirling reverie of Scots and Irish song; flute; whistles; fiddles; guitar; bouzouki; bodhran; and Irish dance, HAWP is a Celtic ensemble that combines ancient traditions with modern musical approaches to create a sound truly representative of Celtic culture in the 21st century.’ This album does just what it says on the tin.
Hawp hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, and this is their debut album. The band are Andy Webster (vocals, guitar, bouzouki, and piano); Niamh Webster (vocals and piano); Anne Lederman (fiddle and foot percussion); Jason Pfeiffer (flute and whistles). Guest musicians on the album are Joe Phillips (double bass) and Martin O’Neil (bodhran and percussion).
The music, arrangements, and playing of the tunes is superb with a strong Scottish feel to them. However, unfortunately, they do tend to sound very much like hundreds of other Celtic bands around on the festival circuit at the moment. As to whether this is a good thing or not, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
My only other small criticism is with their choice of material for the vocal tracks. I thought this was a little weak and they could have done better, as none really stood out. Clearly the band is very strong on instrumentals. But, this is their 1st album and so it will be interesting to see which way they go on future albums, always assuming there will be one.
The album opens with traditional song ‘The Fisherman Boy’ which is followed by several sets of jigs and reels. Many of the tunes appear to have been penned by band members and are exceedingly good to say the least and you’ll find it hard to distinguish them from traditional material. Jason Pfeiffer and Andy Webster write most of them.
To sum up, this is a very nice debut album from a band that is well known in Canada already and is definitely on the way up. You can learn more about the band and buy the album online here. If you go to the website and click on various pages, you can hear the band playing in the background. I think this band will appeal to the folk traditionalists amongst our readers who enjoy ethnic Celtic music from Scotland and Ireland.
(own release, 2009)