With a title like Honk Toot Suite, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the album by Éamonn Coyne and Kris Drever. Reading Coyne is a banjo player was a bit worrying to me. A banjo is a like a signal that bluegrass is about to be perpetrated; worse yet yodeling is threatened. I do not think there is anything kind I could say about yodeling. However, on hearing it, I knew I really shouldn’t have worried.
The combined talents of Coyne’s banjo and mandolin and Kris Drever’s guitar and bass create a wonderfully jaunty sound. The first track, “House Jigs”, sets the tone, being half bluegrass and half Celtic in sound. It bounces beautifully along. “Lucy’s Swamp”, the second tune, doesn’t falter either as it starts off with a slow, easy pace and then speeds up while never losing the tune, and “Roscommon Reels” is pure joy.
Overall, it is an instrumental album of medleys, save for three songs sung by Kris Drever. “The Viking’s Bride” and “Walking in the Dew” are hauntingly beautiful. “Cock-a-Doodle”, on the other hand, is a song dating from the 1920s. While lyrically it isn’t a work of genius, it is fun. With the talented arrangement and with the way Drever sings, it is my runaway favorite song of the album.
Honk Toot Suite is a great meeting of Celtic and Bluegrass styles, and the talent here make it worth the owning. The only complaint here is that there isn’t more of it.
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland