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Middle Aging: Autumn Dance

Black Widow are full of surprises these days having spread their wings from their goth-prog nest. Looking at the title and the artwork, I expected something akin to Blackmore's Night and although this is the main touchstone another is perhaps Jethro Tull's medieval period. Making use of traditional courtly dances as well as original material this is a pleasant, if at times a tad too sickly-sweet, collection of renaissance folk-rock. The misleading opening instrumental is followed by a mellow waltz with Elena Aliboni's sweet vocals swaying gently along to the acoustic guitar and recorder. Vocals are somewhat accented making them hard to follow. Scratching the surface of English folklore, the band introduce "Maid Marion" - an orchestral and acoustic guitar/flute instrumental, the end of which gives the first suggestion of Tull with the jittery Anderson-like flute part accompanying a well played acoustic guitar supported by a strong rhythm.

A traditional renaissance dance tune is the base for "The King's Crown" - a sugary ballad, which oddly enough reminds me of one of the songs from Par Lindh's Bilbo album. The next two pieces are instrumentals. The first is a finely wrought electric and acoustic guitar flight of fancy which blends with flute and brass into a courtly dance at the end. The other, "Autumn" is initially a more refined affair featuring acoustic guitar and flute in a pastoral setting but switching tempos, as a number of the tracks do, into a different theme altogether, this time a rollicking party piece.

"Uneven path" is the wordiest song on the album, beautifully executed by Elena though. Its followed by maybe the best written song, a delicate melancholic lament called "What Tara gives". "Urisck" is a piece for acoustic guitar, featuring intricate tension and release in the chord structures. The work builds nicely with keyboards joining in the middle before fading back to the acoustic guitar to close. Horses hooves and a fanfare introduce "Knights" but the song is spoilt by poor grammar and diction, banal lyrics and too sweet a theme. "Yesult" is a gentle babbling brook of a song embellished rather tastefully by flute.

It's a nice enough album if you enjoy this kind of music, but perhaps lacking in ideas and just too sentimental for its own good. Even the ubiquitous "Greensleeves" finds its way onto the end of the album just think; if that guy Anon were alive today he'd be richer than Bill Gates :-). A little more work on the English beyond Babelfish wouldn't have gone amiss either who or what Yesult and Urisck are remain a mystery, even Wikipedia can't find them perhaps I should have made something up?

Track Listing
1. Spirit of the Wood
2. Let's celebrate
3. Lady Marion
4. The King's Crown
5. Minstrell Sound
6. Autumn Dance
7. Uneven path
8. What Tara given (sic)
9. Urisch
10. Knights
11. Yesult (eklipse)
12. Greensleeves

Added: September 2nd 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Black Widow Records
Hits: 1862
Language: english

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