Between all the busy things happening here (I do not make a living writing these after all) I have been kicking things back with the album Bridge the Roads by Franka De Mille. And it really brought me some much needed peace of mind. So the right album for the occasion!
Personally I had never heard of her before, but as it turns out, she is making quite a name for herself lately. After all, not that many independents get selected for an industry campaign (Why Music Matters from the British Phonographic Industry, alongside names like Nina Simone, the Beatles, Kate Bush, etc.) and as a consequence she is now signed to the Chi Wara label.
As you might have guessed it is quite a contradictory album compared to the ones on offer on these pages off late. What I really like about it is the focus on the voice of Franka. Instrumentation is sparse and leaves a lot of room for the instruments that are used. And not the most obvious ones either. Think violin, cello, accordion, mandolin, or flute, besides piano, guitar and drums. The atmosphere is immense because of that. Every detail is crystal clear and no matter what you are listening to, it has impact. So in a time where we are often bombarded with sound, this is a wonderful and intimate album. Maybe not for every occasion, as this deserves your undivided attention, but a very welcome addition to any collection. Reminded me a bit of the also damn fine Patti Witten albums discussed earlier. Don´t let the folk tag deceive you, to me this is universal music that will appeal to a lot of people!
A new year, a new Reincarnatus album, a New Life and a new wardrobe for the ladies (or so I have heard)… If you read my post about the first Reincarnatus album, you will remember I was quite fond of the musical quality on offer. The combination of medieval instruments like hurdy gurdy, key-fiddle, recorder etc. with a modern rock ensemble of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards just works.
On this record they updated their sound a little without straying too far from the folk and classical infused pop rock they delivered earlier. Maybe a little more guitars and keyboards, but still focussing on (vocal) melodies. No need to repeat the technical abilities of this full female band, they have proven to be professional musicians on every level.
Opening with the very strong couple of Festival Day and Orléans I am immediately caught by the catchy grooves. Ideal single candidates the both of them. But them comes Als Cathars. The Gregorian sounding choir sends shivers down my spine and I think this is one of the best songs on the album. If I recall correct, they already played it last year. The combination of the choir and the band is simple awesome and in itself a reason to buy this album. Yes it is that good!
Another good development is that more of the members bring in songs. I am sure that is another reason the bar is raised as it gives them more material to choose from. They also do a convincing cover of Anastacia’s Left Outside Alone, which fits seamlessly because of the Reincarnatus treatment. Another step forwards and a joy from beginning to end. Support them as I am sure that open minded rockers will dig this as well. (There are guitar solos on board…)
When the band Songs Of Water contacted me if I would give their CD The Sea Has Spoken a listen, I gladly accepted. Not knowing what to expect as I did not know the band at all. But I am always up for a fine surprise.
Well, the music couldn´t be further away from my previous post, but I got very excited listening to this. A warning before hand: if you need your music to include loud guitars, drums and vocals (emphasis on loud), then it is okay to point your attention elsewhere. To all those still reading, and into music that combines elements of folk (Celtic), new age and world music, you have to check this out!
I was immediately captured by the beautiful music on this disk. For the most part it is instrumental, utilizing for instance hammered dulcimer, acoustic guitars, violin, cello, bass, drums, accordion, tuba, banjo and exotic percussion. The latter naturally responsible for the world element. Songs are very moody, with beautiful melodies played on a variety of instruments. Because of the drumming and percussion, sometimes the groove rules, but all done with great taste. I find myself being very impressed by this album and would like to compliment the eight players and various songwriters. And oh, the 2 vocal tracks Sycamore and Willow capture you as well, so no worries. Hauntingly beautiful.
This album is a real labour of love from the Aland islands in Finland with the Finnish national instrument the Kantele having the major role. Musician Stäni Steinbock (a regular contributor to the Music Thoughts group) not only recorded 23 of his songs, but produced, mixed and did the artwork as well. So he is quite a busy guy!
The music on this album is pretty hard to categorize for me. Besides the kantele we hear slide guitar, cello, violin, keyboards, clarinet, occasional drums and various other less common instruments. So perhaps qualifying it as a mixture of folk and classical music comes close.
With this information up front, it will probably not come as a surprise that this is a very mellow album. For my regular taste that is. But that is not saying this cannot be enjoyed. Better yet, some songs and melodies are very beautiful. The Sun Cat for example is a very uplifting song with a simple and effective melody. Stäni sent me a little story to go with every song, but even without that, the mainly instrumental music has a way of getting your imagination fired quickly. And that is added value!
So maybe not for everyone, I still want to encourage you to check this out if you have a broad taste in music or can easily delve into all things folk or classical.
End November I paid attention to Patti´s previous album Sycamore Tryst. I can repeat a lot of what I said there, so I will just say it again, using other words
Tell The Wind is a beautiful album that deserves your attention if you like quality music with a mystic touch. The opening songs of Encircled, Almost Just As Good and Obvious will already tell you a lot about the album’s scenery. Encircled changing between up and down tempo a lot, whilst making sure to tie your attention to it. Almost Just As Good is another fantastic song that just grabs you by the throat and makes you hit repeat.
Overall I think this record is somewhat slower in tempo, but the playing and writing is of the same high calibre. Expertly executed by the same team, so no surprises there. So that touch for detail is not lost either. I feel there is a little more emphasis on Patti´s vocal and acoustic guitar playing here, but that only adds to the picture.
As I said before, strange how this music gets under your skin. Something undefined, yet so strong. Coming from someone into more hard rocking sounds, that says a lot. Maybe not for every hour of the day, but I am unashamed to confess I really dig this stuff. So serious addiction warning, but please support Patti and check her music out!
Personal play tips: every track!
The name Patti Witten I was already familiar with for a few years. But it wasn´t until TJR played some samples from recent album Tell The Wind, that I convinced myself to buy some of her albums. And yes, normally I would not consider folk music, but the samples were interesting enough to make me change my mind. And if that folk tag puts you off also, wait a minute and read on.
To me, this music has little to do with what I call folk music. This is very intense stuff which, albeit based on acoustic guitar, has been arranged to fit seamlessly into popular music. Call it pop, call it soft rock, whatever. This has a quality that transcends tagging. At least that is how I feel after listening to this.
Patti not only is a singer with an identity of her own, she also is a competent guitar player. Both talents are used to write songs that stick, without sounding like something you have heard a million times before. The recommendation of Rosanne Cash on the CD artwork comes as no surprise if you ask me.
First song What I Don´t Tell You deserves to be a timeless classic every home should know and own. A fantastic melody and depth. I am very impressed with the music which is simply intelligent without sounding clever. Most songs that follow have an edge that gets to you. A lot of slow and medium tempo’s, but somehow it makes me listen and enjoy it all very much. Besides the song-writing skills of Patti, producer Rick DePaolo has done a great job as well as the rest of the musicians. A lot of detail in the playing. And some awesome heartfelt guitar solo’s as well.
For all you rockers, this is no hard rocking affair as you will understand. But for anybody with an open mind, I strongly suggest you listen to the samples (try CD Baby) and get a taste of it yourself. Impressive!
Personal play tips: just start it up!