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Big Badger Records BBRCD007 

Kit Hawes on guitar and Aaron Catlow on fiddle are a match made in heaven and Pill Pilots is a superb CD that touches on so many intellectual and musical levels. Rarely do two musicians complement each other in such a way. The soft, understated guitar is a superb foil to the almost ‘old school’ vocal line. It’s always a big mistake when too much emphasis is put on the supporting instruments and not enough on the singer. There’s no such problem here - sitting alongside inspirational arrangements, the vocals are clear as a bell. With a nod toward the singers of old, each song is delivered with great care and attention. As if this isn’t enough, Aaron Catlow’s fiddle playing is sublime, with nothing ever overshadowing the integrity of the music. When elements of the track require it, the playing is restrained and at other times the arrangement soars above the tune perfectly.

For the main part, the material is traditional. What sets the work apart is the truly sympathetic arrangements that give the songs a new lease of life. I particularly enjoyed the treatment of The Yellow Handkerchief, which starts very low key and intimate before developing into a more full studio sound. With only guitar, fiddle and voice, this work demonstrates that less is sometimes more. As there is nowhere to hide vocally, the combination of fiddle and guitar complement the singing superbly, providing a delightful musical game of cat and mouse.

Pill Pilots is definitely a keeper!

John Oke Bartlett


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine