The driving force behind this hand-crafted album package, Will Elmore, is someone I have known for a long time. Not well, but enough to share a few drinks at a bar or chat at a gig when our paths cross. He is a mystical fellow, popping up here and there and seemingly vanishing back to the alternate world he hails from. And if the music he makes with his fellow acolytes is anything to go by, it is some fey dimension or evergreen otherworld.

Side note: I’ve been meaning to get this boxed set under the pen for a while now, so apologies for my tardiness.

The Curioso is a three-album set that dropped through my letterbox in a lovely, handmade box; the artwork of the albums gives a hint of the music to follow, earthy and environmental images, the green of nature and the grandeur of the sun and seasons at the fore.

The first album found within, The Raven and The Rose is a remastering of an album you can find reviewed elsewhere on this site, so I won’t dwell too long on that but to say that it contains a mind-boggling array of sounds and styles. Any thoughts that this will just be some earnest, acoustic, hippy nonsense goes out of the window as soon as Dream Queen is in full flow. Acoustic driven? Yes. Ambient, light, floaty? Okay yes. Hippy vibes? Alright, I’ll give you that. But the way it is put together is pure pop. Rambling Man, which follows, is the sound of Hall & Oates turning into an Oyster Band tribute, and Melody & Me is as much a dance song as a folk one.

I’m making a point that you must leave all expectations at the door on your way in. For whilst it lives up to many expectations, it also far exceeds them. Eclecticism, thy name is Another Dawn.

Last Orders is similarly adventurous. For every out-and-out folk missive, such as the lilting sun-drenched waltz of Wistful Tales of Summer, there is something more alt-pop and chart-friendly, such as At The Village Races. For every hazy slice of psychedelia, such as Southern Soul or ethereal dreamscape, such as The Dream Catcher, there is the quirky and quaint spoken word of When We Meet Again.

The point again is, even with their chosen field, alternate folk and roots music, Another Dawn can push those boundaries so that they wander through pools of shimmering pop or cool indie smarts, through underground, and indeed this time out understated dance grooves, and more astute and accessible moves.

The final part of the sonic triptych is Songs From The Hermitage. If Away With The Fairies is a lilting folk frolic, it is still filled with sweet sentiments, seductive sways, wonderfully meandering basslines and a beat that looks you in the eye and dares you not to take your partner for a woodland waltz around the mossy earth floor.

Wicked Old Maggie Pie sounds like a modern remix of an old blues master; One Night is what I imagine Chris Isaak would sound like fronting the Seelie Court house band, and A Home In Your Heart is both cooly quirky and devastatingly charming.

It’s a great trilogy of albums, each one having its musical fingerprint yet each also sounding like an integral part of a cohesive body of work. It is music with one foot in the folk genre, the other…well, planted anywhere it feels like stepping. The music is both in keeping with the past, gorgeously in step with the present and adventurous enough to help define the future. It may tip its hat to what has gone before, but its eyes are set firmly on what is over the next musical horizon.

I’m only sorry that it took me so long to get around to writing this up.

Previous articleGlycerine – Wanaka (reviewed by Dave Franklin)
Next articleThat Was The Musical Week That Was – 110223
Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.

Leave a Reply