Hatful of Rain epitomise the explosion of UK Americana artists who have grasped this living tradition of music that has travelled across the Atlantic over the past centuries to the Americas and is now enjoying the return trip. On its travels it has rubbed up against countless other musical styles, been shaped by familiar hands in unfamiliar lands and finally become it’s own distinct body of work.
The Sussex band have often played these traditional songs on this EP amongst their own original material on stage and have finally got around to releasing them. It is a whistle stop musical tour; the opener ‘I Know You Rider‘ is a blues song collected in the ’30s by John & Alan Lomax, then it’s on to ‘False False‘ from Scotland, then we go to French Canada for some tunes. Walking Boss is a song by black railroad workers from the turn of the 19th Century, finally ‘Shenandoah‘ tells of a fur trader who fell in love with the daughter of a Native American Chief.
Just reading the liner notes makes you realise what a melting pot of musical styles America has been, inevitably it also leads to reflection on the horrors of slavery and the greed that went with colonialism. History is written by the victors, to us they were settlers and traders, to the indigenous peoples they were invaders exploiting their lands. Climb The Air is not just a great little collection of songs given the brilliant Hatful Of Rain treatment, it is also a brief glimpse into other vanished lives.