CD Review: The Horse's Ha

Of the Cathmawr Yards (Hidden Agenda)

Bad band name? Check. Bad album name? Check. Bad album? Sorry, but that one is not getting checked off. While many recent additions to the world of folk music think that all you need to be an Americana artist is an acoustic guitar and a bottle of whiskey, the Horse's Ha produce nuanced and soothing takes on backwoods traditions. Of the Cathmawr Yards offers the sort of wispy, mournful dirges and lazy-summer ballads you've come to expect from Bonnie "Prince" Billy. These tunes come complete with sorrowful fiddle lines, dusty upright bass, shuffling drum beats and even jazzy undertones. The fact that singers Janet Beveridge Bean and James Elkington harmonize with casual perfection also helps. The former is like a diamond-in-the-rough nightclub singer, while the latter comes with the bass-heavy cadence of Bill Callahan. They add melodic complexity to well-orchestrated tunes, making Of the Cathmawr Yards not only pleasing at first listen, but well worth return spins. Now, with a solid album logged, maybe they can work on the whole naming thing. — Whelihan

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