The Raven and The Rose –  Wisdom of The Trees (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a2461722928_16Most modern music is made for all the wrong reasons, be it the desire to be a career musician or to get that 15 minutes of fame, a means to an end and a very shallow end at that. That is what I appreciate about Wisdom of The Trees and Will Elmore, the man at the heart of these wonderful musical projects, he is the total opposite of that star chasing ethic. Every so often a new album pops up on the radar, no fanfare, no fuss, just a sonic message in a creative bottle being dropped into the ocean to see who will find it and what they will make of it. Music made for all the right reasons, a creative outpouring, the need to communicate, the desire to build something.

And if last time around Fragments of Sound was an eclectic collection of trippy, ambient dance instrumentals, this time the focus is more song based and having gathered a collection of guest vocalists, with Nigel Boyd Robinson taking the lions share and doing a sterling job, to add the required lyrical dimension and the result is a wonderfully smooth, pastoral folktronic journey.

The titles and subject matter suggest some very familiar, traditional motifs being played with but it is the reimagining of these standard forms into hazy, drifting post-folk gems that is the real charm of the album. Come Away With Me plays with buoyant east European grooves and Under The Moonlight revels in 60’s folk revivalism and then you have songs such as Rambling Man which somehow captures a strange, smokey 80’s Hall and Oates pop vibe whilst still staying well within the albums remit. For me it is The River’s Daughter that is the highlight of the collection, a mercurial blend of The Incredible String Band and the bucolic pop of The Lilac Time.

It’s a fantastic collection of music, it shows just one future path of folk toward the potential of the new roots sunrise. Folk music has been with us since the first proto-human banged a stick on a fallen tree trunk to create rhythm and then stuck his finger in his ear to better harmonise with it, and so its reinvention every generation or so is only natural, necessary even. What The Raven and The Rose does so well is help keep the evolutionary forces at work, it may not seem like much but it is the most vital job in the musical landscape.

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