I have to admit piper-composer and occasional singer Jarlath Henderson’s previous solo album from a few years ago, Hearts Broken, Heads Turned, was not my favorite. The electronics layer in the music was a bit overpowering for my taste and the music stayed at an arm’s lenght from me. He is such a brilliant musician who has proven his talent in countless collaborations, so the album was, purely subjectively for me, something of a letdown. Feel free to feel otherwise 🙂
It’s different this time. Raw is mostly an acoustic affair, with some very tastefully applied electrica integrated into the fabric. The quartet performing here is simply stellar in this genre, as the names Duncan Lyall, Hamish Napier and Innes Watson surely indicate. They create a perfect backing for Jarlath and the entire album has a very vibrant live-in-the-studio feel.
The collection of tunes is lively, the playing is, of course, excellent and the overall sound is deliciously… well, raw. Not to say the album is not expertly produced – it is, and that’s why the surprisingly big and jus a bit edgy sound of this band comes through just great!
My own faves of this serving are Boys, featuring some fierce piping on top of a one-note low synth drone before suddenly switching to another mood; Robin’s, a swingin’ waltz tune that grows nicely along the way; Jana’s, a six-and-a-half minutes of great themes and instrumentation, and Pony, an almost seven-minute exercise in how to take a simple, lazily plodding rhythm pattern and develop it into a mini-epic for folk quartet. Not quite your usual trad, this 😉
All in all, a very nourishing treat with no artificial ingredients (a little Moog in the mix doesn’t matter) and all ready to serve. Just dig in, you lot, and enjoy!
Listen and purchase here: https://jarlathhenderson.bandcamp.com/album/raw