Review: Hat Fitz and Cara – Wiley Ways

Posted on: Sunday, Jun 10, 2012

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Hat Fitz and Cara – Wiley Ways

(self release)

For those who like their music on the rootsy side here’s an album from Australian duo, Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson, that’s well worth checking out. An unashamedly old-time feel dominates this album, with their folky vibes coupled with the  hill country blues of North Mississippi, to make a most engaging collection.

“Wiley Ways” is produced by the great Australian musician, Jeff Lang, who says of the couple, “Hat Fitz and Cara make beautiful, raw, exciting music that never fails to grab me” . . . praise indeed. As well as productions duties Lang also contributes lap steel, snare and bass here – the album recorded at The Enclave Recording Facility in Melbourne.

Irish-born Cara Robinson’s sweet voice contrasts with the more gruffer tones of Hat Fitz, her husband . . . but together, with the added instrumentation of guitar, washboard, fife and drums, etc., they are the perfect blend. The 12 song collection are all self-penned, apart from one lyric by Frank McNamara, and kicks off with the driving, stomping blues of “Power”, with some fine guitar work and Robinson’s passionate vocal. The haunting “Eliza Blue” takes the pace down on a tale of Australia’s past; this leads into the very appealing “Absent Eyes”, where Hat Fitz delivers his vocal over a brooding bass line and intricate guitar work.

“Company Underground” is home to some fuzzy-toned electric slide guitar, and is an ode to a mining company unsurprisingly, with the duo’s contrasting voices taking vocal turns here . . . it’s a mid-paced blues stomp and a standout here. “Go Daddy” has that classic North Mississippi hill country feel with its fife and drums, that has travelled a long, long way to Melbourne! The title cut, “Wiley Ways” is a jaunty, folk-flavoured tune driven by acoustic slide guitar and washboard, with again the vocals shared by both Hat Fitz and Cara.

Producer Jeff Lang contributes some fine lap steel on “Sine” and bass on “Red Rattler”, another blues stomp, with fiddle here from Alison Ferrier – like a lot of this album I reckon it will be an absolute joy caught live, and indeed the duo are currently on a two-month tour of the UK, Ireland and Europe . . . if this fine release is anything to go by they will be well worth seeing!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.hatfizcara.net

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