A Hawk and a Hacksaw – Délivrance

 

A Hawk and a Hacksaw – Délivrance

http://www.theleaflabel.com/ http://www.konkurrent.nl/

 

Every year Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost (the duo who make up A Hawk and a Hacksaw) treat us to another album of Eastern European influenced folk music. Proper folk music that is – music designed to get people dancing rather than beard stroking and ale swilling. Not that there is anything wrong with these pursuits, it’s merely that people have a jaundiced idea of what constitutes the wonderful world of folk.

 

Foni tu Argile opens the album, sounding, in the opening stages, for all the world like a Greek version of Ivor The Engine. In fact, it’s something of a shame when the full band joins the fray and a rambunctious tune emerges. In front of a simple military beat brass, accordion and instruments that I’ve never heard off created an image in this listener’s mind of rural villagers dancing at a wedding. Kertesz, meanwhile, is more restrained, whilst at the same being more insistent. It also features Barnes’ singing and it takes a while to be able to tell that he’s singing in English – for a while I was convinced that the vocals were being run backwards. The Man Who Sold His Beard returns to a more ‘authentic’ sound. In the early days it felt, pace Beirut, that Barnes was a traveller, draping himself in the sounds of wherever he might find himself. Now it feels like he has settled and so there is no sense that the (largely) Eastern European influences are tacked on to his songs to make them appear more exotic or interesting – they are his songs.

 

And a lot of fun they are too. Raggle Taggle might start off like a funeral lament but midway through it turns into a jaunty little number that is certain to put a smile on your face. I Am Not a Gambling Man gets us back closer to the live version of AHAAH, consisting as it does of just the core duo. Towards the end of the album the pace falls off (but not the quality). Vasalisa Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest lurches along in a manner not too dissimilar from Tom Wait’s The Black Rider whilst Lassu is a stately rumble (though it also features screeching violins). All in all another excellent AHAAH album.

 

Words: Chris Dawson