‘Amidst Fiery Skies’ from The Willows - a collection of eloquent interpretations(September 23, 2014)
The Willows have a reputation for blending and winding the threads of multiple influences tocreate their distinctive music. As always, with their latest album ‘Amidst Fiery Skies’, you’re struck by the purity of the female lead vocal, the tightness of their delivery and increasingly, more depth and richness to their sound. This album presents the full gamut of their style moving faultlessly across soft ballad with poignant understanding and tough narrative that lays it on the line, building layer upon layer into a collection of eloquent interpretations.
The attraction of ‘Amidst Fiery Skies’, lies in its intermingling of traditional and original narratives building something vibrant, diverse yet entirely harmonised. The variety runs through the opening ‘Red Sands’ beautifully blending family history and personal story, the delightful ‘Roseville Fair’, an Irish ‘travelling-with-hope’ ballad ‘Maid of Culmore’ and the longing of immigrant workers in ‘Shores’ – throughout it’s a fusion to embrace your awareness. Other high points include the cautionary message and jaunty gait of ‘Daughter’, their interpretation of ‘Faithful Sailor Boy’ morphed into ‘Outward Bound’ and the heroic tale of a Whitby lifeboat and the wreck of ‘The Visitor’.
The Willows are Jade Rhiannon (vocals, Shruti Box) Cliff Ward (banjo, guitar, violin, vocals) Ben Savage (guitar, Dobro, vocals) Prue Ward (violin, vocals) and Evan Carson (bodhran, percussion) with guests Ben Nicholls (double bass) and across selected tracks Debs Spanton (double bass) and Pete Ord (foot stomp). ‘Amidst Fiery Skies’ is co-produced with Sean Lakeman, and releases on 6 October.
Reviewer: Charlie Elland