The second album from Bob Hay's folksy combo proves that the former leader of Athens' Squalls was serious when he vowed to veer off the beaten path. An institution in the early '80s Athens scene, the Squalls produced a quirky mix of dance pop with considerable folk and jam tinges that influenced a number of younger acts, including Widespread Panic.
On the other hand, the second volume of songs by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) firmly entrenches Hay and his Jolly Beggars as hipster pundits. The inner core of this project is delightfully obscure in these modern times. The traditional folk melodies that frame Burns' lyrics, however, are as insistently catchy as the Squalls' good-natured pop music that had Athenians dancing more than two decades ago.
Former Squalls Diana Torell (fiddle, vocals) and Ken Starratt (bass) are still on board, joined by Dave Dowless and Bill David, and the literate minstrels eagerly tear through 18 selections, including the nine-minute "Tam Lin" opus, with Burns' thick Scottish dialect -- and bawdy humor -- intact. 4 Stars
Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars CD release show is Thurs., April 20, at Farm 255, Athens.
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