Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson: Beauty & The Beast

~ Monday, 17 May 2010
The beauty in question is Cara Robinson, a fine voiced chanteuse from County Down, Northern Ireland whose previous release Keepers Lit was a smoldering Americana tinged slice of folk, and the beast, Hat Fitz, a wandering blues minstrel from the Australian outback who has been steadily releasing album in his native Australia and burning up the festival circuit through out Europe.

The duo who met while Fitz was touring in Ireland and recently married. This is their first album together. Fitz's love of 1920's style electric slide blues is still there but the beast has been tamed by the beauty and folk influences, even a bit of bluegrass, have been introduced. If this album was a recipe it would read... One heaped teaspoon of Seasick Steve, a liberal helping of Catfish Keith, a pinch of Joni Mitchell and a smidgen of The Dubliners. Finish with a dusting of Blind Willie McTell and put into a studio at gas mark five and bake for 1 week. What you get is an eclectic pie with many flavours that shouldn't work together but just do.

Album opener Black Cat Bone is a cover of the late great Jessie Mae Hemphill song and I think she would approve. This is high quality electric blues. Gimea Bay has a similar feel but the screaming harmonica gives it a harder edge. Things take a decidedly folk twist
with the instrumental Fitzmullholland with Robinson introducing the flute and pays more than a nod to her Irish roots. Robinson takes center stage on the wonderfully lilting Where It All Began and the beautiful Lay Me Down. The latter really does provide the perfect showcase for Robinson's stunning and breathy voice.

A real highlight is the mesmerising cover of Blind Willie McTell's Deliah. The vocal interaction of the duo really lifting it but honour of standout track has to go to Backdoor Man. It is a dirty gritty sounding affair that you will find hard to sit still to with Robinson again in fine voice. As an album it is a mixed bag. At 16 tracks it is at least 4 tracks to long but it is still immensely enjoyable never the less


[][][][] (4/5)