PETE ASTOR - Hal's Eggs
[Static Caravan, www.staticcaravan.org]

Omitting his colourful history, Pete Astor delights us once again. This time around "Hal's Eggs" can be put under the category of "heavy folk". Oddly enough, the record was really only meant as a personal tape of sorts [the release itself is apparently limited to only 500 copies]. Pete Astor's grim but at the same time pleasant voice and delicate banjo go perfectly together as Pete sings about "The Lovers" ["Don't you remember those lovers in the wood?"]. A tinge of harmonica on "False Knight of the Road" gives the song a very "old" fashioned feel. In fact, the whole record has a medieval theme to it. From subjects such as hangman, lovers found in the middle of the woods, gardens and various others, this is one release that harkens back to a simpler time - a time when flushing toilets didn't exist, when Robin Hood ruled the back woods of England, when the monarchy actually meant something. Pete's voice recalls another British vocalist, Richard Thompson. Similar despair is felt. Similar gritty nuances are heard as he places his intonation on just the right chords. The stand out track for me personally is the opener "The Demon Bird". With its harsh guitar and its bass-heavy feel, it's a near perfect meeting of folk and dub. Certainly, this is story telling at its finest. With finesse, class and subtlety, "Hal's Eggs" proves that folk goes hand-in-hand with rock elements. This is sure to be mandatory listening at any castle party.

- Tom Sekowski


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