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H“-R“ - New Moon†

H“-R“ - New Moon†

Hò-rò is a seven-piece outfit from the Highlands that’s become a force to be reckoned with ever since winning the Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections 2014 and the crucial Up and Coming Artist Award at the MG Alba STMA in 2017. Here they approach that ‘difficult third album’ with tremendous confidence – and a largely new line-up. This now comprises Hannah Macrae (fiddle, vocals), Calum MacPhail (accordion, vocals), Sean Cousins (guitar), Paul Martin (keys, electric guitar), Ally MacLean (pipes and whistles), Calum MacQuarrie (bass) and drummer David Calum Macmillan.

Drawing on music the band members have been working on during the pandemic years, New Moon brings something of a release of pent-up energy, so the overall feel of the album could be described as cathartic. So (and perhaps as predicted, having viewed the exciting videos on the band’s website), the epic instrumental adventures go for maximum effect; the Kaylin’s set and Dark Sky, New Moon really rock. It’s a balanced collection (an intro, four instrumental cuts and five songs) taking in both delicate contemporary ballads and upbeat tune-sets and songs. A well-intentioned cover of country staple Long Black Veil aside, the album’s music tends mostly to reflect the atmospheric digipack artwork, notably on Tim Edey’s lovely tune Little Bird. The songs bring limpid singing from Hannah and Calum, particularly on Robin Laing’s Isle Of Eigg.

The trademark Hò-rò sound is both high-octane and heartfelt, and New Moon certainly delivers on both counts. Pity, then, that the package’s lack of notes or lyrics mean that Hannah’s beautiful singing of traditional Gaelic song Oran An Amadain Bhoidhich is denied its potential impact at the CD’s close.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine