Artist: Hat Fitz and Cara
Album: Wiley Ways
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 07/17/2012
We encountered Hat Fitz and Cara over Labor Day at Rhode Island’s Rhythm & Roots Festival, always a reliable source for stunning new music. The duo crank out an impressive sound from their many instruments and dissimilar but complimentary vocal styles. Irishwoman Cara Robinson plows the groove on percussion (from washboard to a full drum kit) and contributes pennywhistle, etc., while her significant other, Aussie Hat Fitz, strums, picks and slides pretty much anything with strings; the two alternate and harmonize on vocals. Robinson’s voice provides the honey and the butter, and Hat Fitz’s rough voice dishes it up like chewy homemade bread—a darned satisfying combination, folks.
Wiley Ways owes as much to the blues as anything, but the treatment of their original songs borrows from folk, Irish and Australian traditions, then gets a twist from two artists who like to stretch their talents and work up a sweat. Driving rhythms and lightening licks on songs like “Power” alternate with light Celtic pipes on “Sine” and “Rusty River,” but my favorites include “Eliza Blue,” a haunting blues tale dripping with darkness, and the rough-hewn love song “Tarni Lee,” (mostly) from Hat Fitz, his voice and guitar full of longing, preserving enough jagged edges to snag on a delicate heart.
This couple has begun making headway outside of their Australian homeland, and it can’t happen soon enough that they revisit the US, bringing more quality blues/Americana back where it belongs.