Fortune's Hand,
Rhythm of the Wind
(self-produced, 2000)

Fortune's Hand is another Maritime band that has that Celtic-rock thing down pat. Rhythm of the Wind, the quintet's first full-length CD, is an excellent introduction to this band, whose members cite influences ranging in style from the Pogues to Stan Rogers.

Mark d'Entremont (guitar) and Kevin Bohaychuk (whistles, fiddle, bodhran, guitar) share lead vocal duties for the Nova Scotia band, and their diversity keeps the album interesting as they switch between a gritty folk-rock and traditional folk-shanty style of singing. The band also includes Donald Landes (guitar, mandolin, eggs, backing vocals), Rob Mattatall (drums, backing vocals) and Lee Cluett (5-string and fretless bass).

The opening title track, a d'Entremont composition, could definitely benefit from generous airplay -- it's a good, lively tune which shows off the band's vocal and instrumental chops, and it could very easily win them new fans on its own. Fortunately, the band doesn't rest long on those laurels, packing the album full of original, traditional and cover tunes that will keep your spirits high.

The band's Maritime influence is apparent in its choices, such as "Rolling on the Sea," Roger Stone's upbeat song about the fisherman's plight, plus traditionals "Haul Away Joe" and "Old Maui" -- the latter in particular gets a new face in this clever, unique arrangement.

Other traditionals on this album are "Wild Rover," "Star of the County Down" and "Rocky Road to Dublin." Fortune's Hand also provides good covers of "Home for a Rest," a Spirit of the West favorite, and the Pogues' "Sally MacLennane." Andy M. Stewart's "Rambling Rover" gets sparse treatment at the end, a fun close although of markedly different style than the rest of the album. There are also two more originals, "Grow Up or Go Away" and the instrumental "Hardwood," which bode well for the band's future as tune- and songwriters.

Whether old or new, the songs are presented here with energy and distinctive Fortune's Hand style. Each track is fun and, while I certainly have my favorites ("Sally MacLennane" and "Old Maui"), there's not a one I'd recommend tossing away or skipping. I look forward to this Nova Scotia band's next endeavor!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 10 August 2001