Steppin' on Cords
(Make 'Em Go Wooo, 1999)
This is a lively album that blends many different styles of music from Russian folk to calypso to French Canadian, often within the course of one rollicking medley. Hotpoint consists of six multi-talented talented musicians, so the songs are filled with fiddle, banjo, piano, bodhran, guitar and even a didgeridoo for good measure. The result is dynamic mix of folk-dance tunes that overflow with energy.
The band has quite a repertoire of tunes, and they squeeze as many as possible into this album. The result is medleys, and lots of them. Fortunately they blend all the songs very well, and it sounds very natural to hear a Celtic reel followed by the theme from Tetris (anyone who is a fan of the video game has got to hear this one). I am especially fond of the fiddling of Mark Burhans, whose expressive playing style always manages to convey the right "feel" of the songs. One of my favourite songs is a fun medley called "Cleo/Mr. Fiddle/Tipsy Gipsy." I know the name of the song may sound like three colourful characters at the local bar, but it's quite entertaining.
There are of course other notable tracks on the album, such as the band's opening medley, "Steppin' on Cords/Gaspe Reel/Calypso." It is a wonderful introduction to Hotpoint's high-spirited style. "Tam Lin/Powwow" has some great didgeridoo playing; it's a wonder more bands don't discover this versatile instrument -- which is quite difficult to get the hang of, by the way. "Pateroller" is a high-speed banjo tune, with wonderful percussion to boot.
There are a few moments of relaxation during some lovely waltzes, such as "School Marm" and "Bandura Waltz." But I think that where Hotpoint really excels is during the faster numbers. They seem to have so much fun with each and every song that it's nearly impossible to get bored with the album, even if a few of the songs sound alike.
[ by Patrick Derksen ]