Hide and Hair –  The Trials of Cato (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

For all folks recent evolutions, its dalliances with indie chic, its wandering of shimmering dreamscape pathways, its pop hook-ups, there is something to be said for the traditional sound. Of course the art of keeping things both true to the genre and relevant for modern audiences is to walk that fine line between familiarity and freshness and that is exactly what The Trials of Cato do. And do so effortlessly.

Rooted in the folk traditions of Britain and Ireland, it mixes original composites with traditional sounds, often blurring the lines between the ancient canon and their own reworkings. Songs are drawn from medieval literature, cover seventeenth century lovers laments and occasionally wander even beyond the traditional homeland for such music. An example of this is Kadisha, a musical musing on the wonders of the Lebanese landscape, a location where the band spent time honing their skills and a tune infused with sounds of both occident and orient.

Traditional folkies will love this, as will fans of the revivalists such as Fairport Convention or The Oyster Band and those who have come to the genre via more mainstream or indie avenues (Wildwood Kin?) will find it as accessible as it is authentic. If traditional folk music is to find new audiences it is through bands such as The Trials of Cato and albums like Hide and Hair which retain all the deftness of the past but also offer the slickness and sonic sheen that modern audience will connect with.

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