Bryan McKee reviews Over the Hill Music Collective’s new album “Cicatrix”

The Over The Hill Collective offers a relatively new musical concept.

Under the stewardship of local musician Paul Kane, this community arts project based  in Belfast and working within the confines of the Oh Yeah! Music Centre, looks at the question of musicians and how they create as they get older.

The organisation has, for the last 6 years, been building, amongst other activities, a support network for mature musicians. The objective was to create an environment which was collaborative, constructive and supportive to allow mature musicians to develop and ultimately showcase their talents.

This is the second album produced by the Collective and features the Collective’s own backing band.



The collaboration of musical styles on this album is testament to the unique process undertaken by the organisation. Each individual can be described as a skilled and creative musician with many years experience. These individuals have then been grouped together, and have combined their eclectic styles and influences.

What is astonishing is how with, presumably, minimal time playing together, the group has created an expressive album that can be enjoyed by a wide range of listeners.

The combination of experience and styles, suggests both spontaneity and a sense of hard graft; the songs strong enough to drive the listener to indulge in the experience of listening to the album from start to finish.


All the songs on this recording are original works and lead guitarist Paul Kane, as well as an keading figure in the OTHMC is also the development officer at the Oh Yeah! Music Centre, offers a personal favourite for this writer, ‘Wash my Hands’. As a community based project, it makes sense to bring awareness to such topics as those coping with OCD in the modern world. The message and meaning of the song is driven forward with a catchy chorus and a folk, country beat. The walking bass, the rampant fiddle, and the filtered vocals, all contribute to a classic performance.


Another addictive offering is ‘Jump In’ by Liz Kelly who appears as an avid fan of blues based musical styles, and whose influences might be derived, perhaps, from figures like Scott Joplin.

The ragtime piano blends in beautifully with Liz’s vocals, telling the story of the recognition that the reality of marriage falling far short of the initial promise. A cool backbeat on percussion maintains the tempo while Liz shines vocally throughout..


The album offers ‘Next Time’ by Bernard Jackson as the opening track.

A song with an upbeat rhythm, pop melodies and electric guitar breaks, the echo in my ears is that of the Foo Fighters. One might even mistake the vocalist for Dave Grohl, in the pre stadium-rock, poppier version, of the FF’s. The song, documenting a relationship breakdown, is complete with handclaps and solid backing vocals.

Rab Wishart’s ‘Home’ appears to borrow a little from ‘Blackbird’ by Paul McCartney, the opening acoustic guitar finger work lends itself to that interpretation, beyond that a sprinkling of Springsteen, due to the broken and muffled phrasing throughout the vocal.

Regardless of the more obvious influences, what allows the track to stand out is its own underlying creative force, the feeling of authenticity that cannot be replicated as a man reconciles himself with the place he grew up.



If the concept of this project was to show that grouping together a bunch of mature musicians with various styles could produce an album of  variety and depth that one is transfixed enough to accord every word and every detail of every song with some praise, then this album should be seen as a huge success.

In my opinion, ‘Cicatrix’ has been criminally neglected with regards it’s showcasing around Northern Ireland.

The odd play on local radio suggests an under appreciation of the work on offer.

As a message to young aspiring musicians just dipping their foot into the musical world, this album suggests that no matter what your age, background, or musical interests, lovers of music, with a little bit of support, can create music filled with creativity and expression.

Album details can be found below

Drums- Matt Jamison
Bass and Guitar- Bernard Jackson
Fiddle, Keyboard, and Piano- Liz Kelly
Lead Guitar/Guitar- Rab Wishart, Paul Kane
Backing Vocals- Liz Kelly, Bernard Jackson, Rab Wishart, and Paul Kane
Additional Percussion- Bernard Jackson, and Paul Kane
(Lead Guitar on Track 11 The Dreaming Moment-James McLarnon

Track Listing:
1. Next Time- Bernard Jackson
2. Take You Home- Gavin Duffy
3. Jump In- Liz Kelly
4. If I Could- Neil Lavery and Danielle Ireland
5. Long Way To Go- Martin Carter
6. Wash My Hands- Paul Kane
7. Home- Rab Wishart
8. No One But Me- Syd Morgan
9. The Road- The Hydeaways
10. Camenbert- Sean Lawlor
11. The Dreaming Moment- James McLarnon

Cicatrix can be purchased at various outlets. The link to Amazon can be found here.


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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.