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Flos Headford of Shreds and Patches

reviews Frost Bites by Belshazzar's Feast

Paul Hutchinson is probably the most inventive and sensitive musician I have ever had the pleasure of working with. On this compilation of yule-related pieces, he (in his understated way) shines like a star on a frosty night. With his long-time buddy, Paul Sartin (he of the velvet voice, lyrical fiddle and haunting oboe), he proffers a feast for the discerning listener. Though using merely a little percussion (Pete Flood), bass clarinet (Brendan Kelly) and vocals (Jennifer Bailey) as reinforcement, they create paradoxically rich yet spare arrangements of mostly English traditional material. Paul H contributes two compositions, but traditions included are Breton, Appalachian and Canadian.

I have only a handful of favourite CDs that get pulled out each year as Christmas approaches. This album shall join that elite. Apart from its potential as a seasonal present, it's ideal to savour after a fine dinner, over a tot or two of rum. Perfect.