Hò-rò New Moon is a really nice sip of Moray’s finest Windswept Wolf Scottish ale, and it also colours (perhaps because of the melodic alcohol content!) the Robert Burns image on the old five-pound Scottish note in deeper and more vibrant hues. And it’s always nice to say that the fire has returned once again to the glen. As Joseph Hayden wanted to blow the wigs off the rich people and John Lennon told those very same people to “rattle their jewelry”, this album, in a quite wonderful way, scorches history.
Just so you know, it starts on the mystical haze of the brief, ‘Intro’, but then the band clears the air and fires up an earthy instrumental tune, ‘Spot On’, with fiddle and accordion dancing around a bit, until the percussion (a full kit!) kicks up the voltage. Of course, there’s highland lull which builds the drama, until the tempo returns to full throttle. This is a concert ready tune and conjures the great pulse of the band Wolfstone. The same is true for the tune, ‘Kaylin’s’ which simply spins with dance step joy that certainly echoes the sweet tones of the very great band Mànran.
Now, if I may, please allow me to inject a person Scottish music memory: One day, while wandering the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, I stumbled into a pub conversation with a woman who claimed to be the direct descendant to the ‘Annie”, with whom everyone’s Romantic (and already mentioned) hero Robert Burns, spent the night “amand the Rig wi’” as chronicled in the song ‘Corn Rigs’, which was sung to perfection by the wonderful band Ossian. I didn’t know what to say to her. So, I simply asked for an autograph!
That said, the group slows the pace for several songs. Accordion guy Calum MacPhail sings a nice and very acoustic cover of Robin Laing’s ‘The Isle Of Eigg’. And fiddle player Hannah Macrae sings the Gaelic voiced ‘Beinn A’ Cheathaich’, which certainly (with call and response vocals) recalls the beauty of early Capercaillie. That’s a huge compliment!
The keyboard mysticism (slightly) returns for the gorgeous ‘Little Bird’, which once again, is propelled with pipes, violin, accordion, and (eventually) sympathetic percussion. The tune swells into a thoughtful River Tweed moment.
From there (and holy Highland cow!) the band covers several songs, like the old warhorse, ‘The Long Black Veil’ and, while it’s always difficult to compete with The Band’s Rick Danko’s solid rendition on their Big Pink album, Hò-rò lengthens the tragic tale into an (almost) cinematic quality. And their rendition of Karine Polwart’s ‘Follow The Heron’, once again, with dual voices, is quite sublime.
Ditto for the (sort of) instrumental title track, ‘Dark Sky New Moon’, as a violin introduces a melodic theme, but then the band catches a big burn with acoustic guitar and accordion in quick step unison that fuels more of that very modern and defiant “fire in the glen” (Thank you, Andy M. Stewart!).
All of that also said, the album ends with the serenity of the Hannah sung ‘Oran An Amadain Bhoidhich’, which bathes in the quietude of an always beautiful Celtic folk song sunset.
But there are no autographs required here, as the band members of Hò-rò sign their names with the magical and very musical spirit, which will, indeed, “flourish on both sides of the Tweed”, and drink out of “the glass or jug” from Robert Burns’ “Guid ale” that always “keeps the heart aboon”.
Artists’ website: https://www.musichoro.com/
Live at Wee Studio: