No Distance / Gan Achar

By Steven Hawson

Three comments

Debut CD_ No Distance / Gan Achar (banjo +)

See the Promo Video and Hear Clips from the Album:

No Distance / Gan Achar is the brainchild and debut album of up-and-coming tenor banjo player Steven Hawson – who hails from Albuquerque USA -- in what is sure to be one of the most varied Celtic music albums to come from a solo artist in years. Mr. Hawson plays no fewer that 16 different instruments throughout the CD…and plays them all reasonably…through his well executed utilization of multi-track recording techniques. Yet in spite of the technologies needed to make the album, the recordings are surpsingly earthy and honest, and add a unique and refreshing sound to the vast and varied world of “Celtic” music.

From fast-paced Irish reels and jigs on banjo and low whistle, to Scottish strathspeys on piano, to slow haunting melodies on guitar, anglo concertina, and harp, Mr. Hawson’s style sits somewhere between the traditional music of the pubs or céilí bands on the one hand, and the more modern sounds of the Celtic super groups on the other…never going too far in either direction. There are also a few quirky numbers thrown into the mix, such as a Bach invention on banjos, a tongue-in-cheek Cowboy song about Scotland, and a ballad about the perils of bidding too impulsively on eBay -- the synth music for which might easilly have fit on Clannad’s Magical Ring album, save for the droll lyrics. As an unexpected twist, the CD also includes several comical spoken dialogues during some of the numbers -- as Mr. Hawson finds himself getting into trouble with the other “band” members for his non-sequiturs. You can only guess what happens to the poor sod by the end.

Not withstanding the light-hearted nature of the album, Mr. Hawson, a self-proclaimed “Celtic musical goof ball,” clearly has some impressive technical skill, versatility, and sensitivity for the music.

All in all, No Distance/Gan Achar proves to be a novel, intelligent, pleasing, and even funny offering that will be well worth adding to your music library -- if for no other reason than you surely don’t have anything else like it already. Hup!

-- Andrew McNeill

Now on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon mp3 and Jango