Hector’s been singing in folk clubs and at festivals for over 50 years, a CV reflected in his accomplished, affable fifth CD for WildGoose. Anyone with an ear for a fine song will appreciate Hector’s unfailing good taste, while Hector’s melodious tenor voice, attractive and consistent in tone, is well suited to the range of material he tackles here. Hector can invariably be relied upon to glean quality songs that will be new to even the seasoned listener – into this category will certainly fall The Stag (by Italian rock musician Angelo Brandwaurdie) and very probably Janis Ian’s AIDS-themed When Angels Cry. More within my own preference-zone, though, are Anderson’s Coast (John Warner), Exile (Steve Knightley), The Man In The Moon (Andy M. Stewart) and Graeme Miles’ Where Ravens Feed, all sung with affection and understanding.
For accompaniment, Hector’s fortunate to have secured the services of superlative fellow-singer Moira Craig, fiddler Carol Anderson, guitarist Bob Wood and multi-instrumentalists Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer. If I’m honest, I might say that the choice of piano rather than guitar as base instrument on several tracks lends them something of an air of the parlour-song. But as compensation there’s a stirring Sir Patrick Spens ballad and the sprightly Gallowa’ Hills (as popularised by Jeannie Robertson and Ray Fisher), and the standout (for me) of Hector’s a cappella re-visit of My Lagan Love. However, such matters of personal preference cannot in the end seriously detract from the old-fashioned charm and unfussy appeal of this album.