Wednesday, 16 March 2016

"2" by The Gloaming - "Emily's D+Evolution" by Esperanza Spalding - "Wise Ol' Man" by The Fall

If by their dreamsThe Gloaming could fly then their fiddle would be the wings of small birds, high and free, soaring in the skies above Ireland. For in that freedom afforded by the cloudless heaven, where shadows fall soft yet sweetly maudlin, is where the band ply their art. Dreams are but visions gathered in the minds of men before being realised as melodies. These are the sweetest of sounds sang in their native Gaelic. And on this, their second album, their collective themes are gathered to be heard at the very best.
And if the violin is the wings of birds then the flute is the leaves falling in crimson hues in the autumn upon the fertile earth, a breeze sighing long and low then blowing across the rolling hills, over the dancing waters of the Lochs. It seems to me that all the leaves have given flight in mirrored harmony with the birds on high. Then the piano, rising before cascading over towns and towers, wild flowers growing rare but beautiful, through valleys green, fresh and lush adds a fluidity to the sound.
Such a splendour of sound that bears all the pain, the hurt, the suffering this proud nation with its indomitable people have known through the years. The music reveals a land of splendour rising above the tears it has shed. Casting aside the horrors witnessed the decades of imperial rule. Yes, it is a gentle sound but not bereft of strength. Yes, it is melancholic but not self-centered. The Gloaming, with this their second recording have managed to capture the sound of Ireland both old and contemporary. It is a delightful achievement.
There are no guitars, no ferocious chords played strident and loud, no feedback, no electronica. Just acoustic instruments played to their optimum best. The sound is persuasive rather aggressive. It is a powerful statement when the soft approach speaks louder than the brash. This album is the bared bones of Irish history gave modern flesh. As I said, it is a delightful album.

The Gloaming are Martin Hayes, fiddle. Denis Cahill, Guitar, sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and pianist Thomas Bartlett. The members first met in 2011. Their first album simply named "The Gloaming" received due critical praise. This, their follow-up, is the firsts equal. It may even be just a tad better.

With very grateful thanks to Brian Warfield for his poetic inspiration used for the text of this post.

Esperanza is a bassist who's rise to fame should be no surprise. Yes, she sings Jazz but her sound is not limited to that genre. Much of her work crosses into other fields including funk, pop, Hip Hop, Blues and Prog. That final genre is where I think she sits best. Her work is progressive even if heavily tinged by Jazz. Her vocals have that fluidity we have come to expect with Jazz.

This album is, I think, a concept record featuring, loosely, a girl called Emily. Having a daughter named Emily helps. But appealing to my parental vanity does not mean the music found on this disc makes it good. The music does that itself. It is good. Well structured, exploratory, tight with a feel of grit which drags it back from the edge of just being clever to being both intelligent and accessible. It is easy to listen to even if you have to pay attention.

If you don't like the rise and fall vocal style as employed by so many Jazz singers, that cascading, fluid voice that dips and swerves dragging the melody with it like Tinkerbell in freefall then this won't be for you. Esperanza sings for me. Her vocal is another instrument that melds well with the prog rock muscle of the band. And boy do they excel on 'Elevate or Operate.'

After all, Concept albums, having been de rigour in the late sixties and seventies, were elbowed from prominence by the ascent of Punk before finding their place again in more recent years. If I am right 'Emily' is but a shade of Esperanza's character.  It is a persona I relate to. Emily, through the voice, words and bands ability, is a girl who dislike the world she lives in. She wants to buck the system, to rail against the rules that stifle creativity in the all-consuming crush of commercially.

Forget whatever label 'they' would like to apply for such conveniences distract you from affixing the one label, the only one that matters. Label this album, this singer, this band - good.

Relentless The Fall. Mark E Smith's attitude, or rudeness depending on your point of view, is what floats this boat. This EP, new, a follow on from "Sub-Lingual Tablet" (hailed and jeered in equal parts) has the band shifting one drummer, is called "Wise Ol' Man." Hammer to the situation of the day if drops into place. Committing new and old tunes to new mixes. I like it but then again I like the previous album.  Always different. always the same.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog