I posted this review a few minutes ago on the Sputnik Music site:
This is the second album by this young Scottish band. It's filled with traditional Celtic music (including lots of fiddles, whistles, accordions, and sometimes bagpipes), as well covers of pop and folk songs by artists such as the British folk singer Kate Rusby and the Irish folk artist Barry Kerr. They also seem to be particularly inspired by the Scottish musician Gary Innes.
The music on Hex is bright-sounding, and generally quite beautiful. The band features two lead vocalists, Lucy Doogan and Calum Iain Macphail. Doogan's voice is pure and delicate, while Macphail's is a sweet male pub voice. Seven of the album's eleven tracks, however, are instrumentals.
The instrumental tracks are mostly all energetic toe-tappers -- and why not, since they were recorded with a seven-piece band? Two of them were composed by Macphail, while the others are covers of traditional music and music by a variety of Highland and Celtic artists. The songs that stuck with me the most, though, were several of the tracks with vocals. "Raven's Wing", the sole track sung by Macphail, is a soft, desperate song about alcoholism. It might be the best song on the album, although it's pushed hard by two of Doogan's numbers, the slow, exquisite "Muinntir Mo Ghraidh", and "Puirt-a-Beul", both of which seem to be sung in Scottish Gaelic. This last one starts in deliberate fashion, then gradually speeds up as the song goes on, to the point where it's impressive that Doogan can sing it without stumbling over the words (and that she can still breathe while she's singing that fast).
Hex is actually one of the more enjoyable albums I've heard in 2018. I'd have given it an extra half-star if they'd have recorded more of their own original music, although I can't really argue with their choice of cover material. (And bonus points should be given to them for recording "Muinntir Mo Ghraidh", which is a song that Doogan found in her grandmother's attic. It was written by her great-grandmother's cousin.) I don't know how often (if ever) this band comes to North America, but this LP has given me enough of a taste of them that I'd love to catch them live when they do.
Rating: 3.5of 5 stars