Therese Honey: Harp Tunes for Cold Nights

Summer’s End
Waterbug 108

Some instrumental albums force you to dance; Therese Honey’s solo harp release makes you want to hunker down with a fleece and a steaming mug of cocoa. She’s titled it Summer’s End, but the mood is midwinter. The ambience is enhanced by the glassy tone of Honey’s harp, the skill with which she plays high scales, her tendency to let her strings ring rather than stopping them, and her downy touch on those strings. It begs a positive spin on the adjective ‘icy,’ as in crispness and stark contrasts. Honey’s repertoire of original, traditional, and covers is mostly drawn from or inspired by Celtic composers, lands, and legends. There are the obligatory Turlough O’Carolan pieces, tunes drawn from the O’Neill and Bunting collections, and a few learned from Grainne Hambly. As this suggests, Honey’s playing tends toward the formal side of the ledger, even when she’s plucking out a jig or reel. You’ll find old favorites such as “Hewlett,” “Moving Clouds,” and “Queen of Yarrow,” and accomplished originals such as the title track and “Connealy Rose.” There’s also a surprisingly lilting rendition of “Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies,” a reworked variant of the popular hornpipe “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine.” What makes Honey’s rendition unusual is that the variant is a bluegrass standard generally cranked out with deliberate homespun raggedness. No rough stuff from Ms. Honey; she’s as inviting as that cup of cocoa with my name on it.

Rob Weir

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