Andy May is probably today’s foremost young player of the Northumbrian pipes. A member of Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Happy Hours is his second individual album, a mix of traditional and original material. Also featured are Julien Batten (accordion), Ian Stephenson (double bass, guitar), Andrew Davison (Northumbrian pipes), Sophy Ball (fiddle) and Benny Graham (vocals). The tracks vary from traditional and lively reels to slower and melancholy numbers.
The piping is, as expected of impeccable quality and dominates the album. This is both the strength and, for the general folk fan, the weakness of the album. If you buy this, you had better be a fan of the pipes. I found myself getting a bit overwhelmed by the pipe solos a few tracks in and felt that the album would have really benefitted from more variety. An example is the emotive song about miners families ’One Miner’s Life’ which is all the more powerful for the vocal component from Benny Graham.
Released by Fellside on 4 May 2009.
2. Regular Climber Set
3. All Night Long
4. Five Four
5. Nine Eight
7. James Hill Set
9. Pipes Duet
10. Happy Hours
11. One Miner’s Life
12. The Countess Of Galloway Set