Album review: BROOKS WILLIAMS & AARON CATLOW – Ready For The Times


Red Guitar Blue Music [Release date 24.06.22]

A chance meeting a few years ago while on tour in The Netherlands led to collaboration of acoustic guitarist Brooks Williams (Boo Hewerdine, Rab Noakes) and violinist Aaron Catlow (Hawes and Catlow, Mad Dog Mcrea, Afro Celt Sound System). When touring plans were temporarily scuppered by the pandemic, the two accepted an offer to create a ‘soundtrack’ devoted to films of the barn owl. The result was ‘Ghost Owl’, which was shortlisted 2021’s Instrumental Album Of The Year by Fatea Awards. On this follow-up they did their own interpretation of other songwriter’s tune, plus a couple of songs penned by Brooks Williams.

Recorded live-in-the-studio with no overdubs, it allows for not only the vocals to be heard loud and clear, but also the fiddle and guitar, which complement each other perfectly throughout the album. An album of varying moods and tempos, as one minute you are enjoying the bluegrass at-a-pace on ‘Love Too Soon’ (penned by Williams), then the fiddle led ‘Snake Oil’, or the swinging blues of ‘CC&O Blues’.

A few good things have emerged out of the pandemic, one of them being the amount of good music being released now. Many, like this one, recorded during the various lockdowns which allowed musicians to focus more on their creative side, with no live music around at the time. Williams & Catlow may sound like an upmarket accountants, yet they are a talented musical duo who amaze the listener with their musical dexterity and enjoyable selection of songs. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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