Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow – Pill Pilots

Album Review | Big Badger Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

There’s a special thanks to Martin Carthy included in the sleeve credits for this album and in a way, I feel that extended thanks could go to Dave Swarbrick, the legendary duo being the template for Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow’s music. Since those days, the fiddle/guitar format has worked well in folk circles, the Dransfield brothers spring to mind and more recently Ciaran Algar and Greg Russell, each who share the same sort of empathetic musical relationship. Sheelanagig’s splinter duo carry on this tradition, exploring both traditional and original songs in a simple stripped down format with no further unnecessary embellishment.

On this follow up to the duo’s debut album The Fox (2016), we find some well-trodden traditional material here such as “Hard Times of Old England”, “I Know My Love” and “The Yellow Handkerchief” (also known as “Flash Company”), as well as lesser known songs and tunes. Kit and Aaron also inject one or two of their own compositions into the mix, including the title song “Pill Pilots”, a song named for the brave mariners of Bristol, who would take their lives into their own hands as they guided tall ships through the channel and along the River Avon. Throughout the nine songs and tunes, the playing is exemplary, a showcase of dexterity and flair that ought to be heard far and wide.

Choice Track: Pill Pilots (NSV 496)