GALLEY BEGGAR – Heathen Hymns (Rise Above Records RISECD208)

Heathen HymnsI have opined before that Galley Beggar’s albums, though excellent in themselves, never quite reflect the live feel of the band. The last album Silence And Tears went some way to redressing this imbalance, but their latest offering, Heathen Hymns, is much more in line with their live performances.

The opener ‘Salome’ is seasoned with eastern spice and is taste of the new direction that Galley Beggar is taking. A progressive rock feel with hints of early Pink Floyd in the mix. The mood and drive continues much in the same vein for ‘Four Birds’.

Back to their traditional folk roots for ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’, though the latter stages of the track has power building as it soars ever skywards before returning to its folk foundation. The middle section of the album is firmly in folk-land. Good tracks all, my favourite being the violin driven ‘Moon And Tide’ and Maria O’Donnell’s pure voice is admirably suited to this style of music.

The penultimate track is my personal pick of the crop. A traditional folk tale given the Galley Beggar prog rock treatment.  Cascading guitar echoing into the stratosphere, inducing flashbacks of psychedelia to this enthralled listener.

The album ends with ‘My Return’ which, in places, has a very similar feel to ‘Salome’. Tasty violin on the bridge of this track and, once again, there is that underpinning of power lurking beneath.

Overall an excellent addition to Galley Beggar’s discography and one I can heartily recommend. If this is your first taste of Galley Beggar, it should leave you wanting more.

Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the GALLEY BEGGAR – Heathen Hymns link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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Artists’ website: http://www.galleybeggar.com/wordpress/

‘Moon And Tide’ – official video:

GALLEY BEGGAR – Silence and Tears (Rise Above Recordings RISECD189)

GalleyBeggar3I first encountered Galley Beggar at the Half-Moon, Putney, where they were playing support to Mike Heron and Trembling Bells. They were, quite simply, terrific; folk-rock played with gusto. At the time they were two albums to the good, but both albums, though very enjoyable, failed to capture the essence of Galley Beggar live. This, their third album, goes some way to redressing that.

Modern production values shy away from reverb going, instead, for a drier sound. A preference I have never understood. This album is mixed with reverb throughout, giving it a more live feel. The band seem to be playing more freely too, with a less studio-bound style.

The opener, ‘Adam and Eve’ is a good solid folk track and gives you a foretaste of what is to come. There are a couple of traditional folk songs, my favourite being ‘Geordie’, but the standout tracks for me are ‘Empty Sky’ and the wonderfully psychedelic ‘Pay My Body’.

Maria O’Donnell has a voice well suited for folk songs and she is backed by an accomplished group of musicians in Celine Marshall on violin, Bill Lynn on bass, Paul Dadswell, on drums and backing vocals and some stylish guitar-work by both David Ellis and Mat Fowler. Only eight tracks on the album, but every one a gem.

This album is closer in spirit to the Galley Beggar I saw, but still a gear or two lower than when the band are live. So, my advice is to buy this album and enjoy the sound of Galley Beggar, but if you ever get the opportunity to see band perform live – take it!

Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: http://www.galleybeggar.com/wordpress/

It’s a couple of years ago but here’s a live version of ‘Jack Orion’ from Silence And Tears. Turn it up to eleven!