28 May 2024

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Hoop - Single Review: The Brightest in the Land

16 Jun 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

I have seen Hoop play twice this year so far (the third will be in a few weeks) and each time I have come away impressed with the depth and breadth of their Americana-inspired folk. This is due in many ways to having two songwriters in the band, both of whom are singers and multi-instrumentalists while they also have an excellent rhythm section and a great fiddler. The line-up on this release is Al Baxter (guitars, mandolin, banjo, vocals), Nick Edgar (flute), Emily Allen (violin, viola), Rusty Knox (percussion) and Glen Coldham (bass). They have also brought in John Molloy as a guest accordionist, which definitely adds to this song which in many ways is a sea shanty in a traditional style.

Al sometimes undertakes guiding on the island of Tiritiri in the Hauraki Gulf, and when he was telling visitors the story behind the Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse he felt it was the perfect inspiration for a song given that it is the oldest lighthouse still in operation in New Zealand, as well as being the first lighthouse built by the Government. The song feels very English, not only in the lyrics but also in the way the arrangement has been constructed which has provided a real opportunity for Emily to shine. From my experience of seeing them play live, Emily normally provides nuances and additional touches here and there but, in this instance, she has taken the opportunity to be the main melodic foil, providing a wonderfully fluid line throughout. It sounds as if she has been taking notes for Ric Sanders of Fairport Convention as there is no doubt, she is performing a very similar role. The latter part of the song is a reel (apparently a trad. arr.) arranged by Emily, but it fits in perfectly.

Far less Americana than their normal material, way more English, this is an absolute delight.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Hoop

Hoop are an indie folk band from Auckland. Expect to hear sweet harmonies and feel-good songs about life and love, with the odd political and social commentary thrown in for good measure. The band features guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, viola, flute, harmonicas, ukes, bass and drums. Hoop also run the Ministry of Folk in Auckland and are the house band there.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hoop


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