After rummaging through the pile of discs sent to me for review, I quickly chose the one whose inspiring cover gave the slightest of hints of what was to follow. With a gorgeous double gate fold cover and accompanying lyric booklet, one gets that warm and fuzzy feeling that the contents will be just as good. I was not disappointed!
To put things in perspective, Jennifer has a set of credentials that would leave most contemporary musicians somewhat embarrassed, having dedicated her life to the nurturing of folk / ethnic / world music, both as a talented musician in a number of bands and as a qualified ethnomusicologist. Joining Jennifer on this album are Maddy Prior and Peter Knight from Steeleye Span, Troy Donockley from Iona, Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention) and Gabriel Yacoub together with some lesser known but equally talented musicians that give this collection of songs some real impetus.
Opening proceedings is a very soft and lilting track that had me thinking hard for comparisons; the best being a female version of "The Song Of The Seagoat" by Peter Sinfield from his "Still" album melded with Tim Buckley's awesome song, "Song To The Siren" sung and arranged so well by This Mortal Coil. Perhaps an inspiration from those 2 songs helped influence the naming of the song as well. As soon as this track closes, Jennifer is joined by a small ensemble in a rousing version of "Out On The Ocean / Rolling Waves" with its Celtically inspired flavour. Grace Griffith, sounding very similar to Maddy Prior contributes wonderful vocals on the "The Gladdest Breeze" and "My Grief On The Sea" while the standout track, "Dissolving / King Neptune" is a pure gem, reminding of the very best that Celtic Folk / Rock bands like Capercaillie, Anam, Iona, Clannad, Altan or Solas could ever deliver. With a stunning melody and wonderful instrumentation, this track will stay with you for a long time.
To belabour the point by describing the remaining songs, track by track seems a bit superfluous but rest assured, the quality of the music is just as high with the right mix of softer sections and more rousing songs that impart the full story behind this nautically inspired collaboration.
This project, having occupied 7 years of Jennifer's time is a minor masterpiece of elaborate songwriting with gorgeous melodies and uplifting instrumentation that will have you telling your friends to tell their friends to tell their friends. With adequate exposure and an accepting audience I believe this album is destined for a well deserved level of success that is totally appropriate for the amount of hard work that has been injected into its creation and beauty.
Until singers like Loreena McKennitt and Enya come up with some new material, those hankering for something along slightly similar lines will be highly impressed with this wonderful album. Very highly recommended.
1. Call Of The Siren (4.42)
2. Out On The Ocean / Rolling Waves (4.08))
3. The Gladdest Breeze (4.37))
4. My Grief On The Sea (4.15))
5. Dissolving / King Neptune (4.48))
6. The Sands Of Time (3.28))
7. Sleep (On The Deep) (2.02))
8. Song For The Night Sea Journey (3.52))
9. Forgiveness (5.08))
10. Neptune Reel / Woman Of The House (2.50))
11. If You Are Near (3.03))
12. The Siren's Farewell (.52))