JOHN BLEK – Until The Rivers Run Dry (We Are Rats Recordings)

Until The Rivers Run DryJohn Blek’s Until The Rivers Run Dry is a lovely folk album with deep melodies and emotive strings that conjure the late 60’s baroque beauty of the bands like (the great!) Appaloosa, Marmalade (of ‘Reflections Of My Life’ fame!), and The Left Banke’s immortal ‘Walk Away Renee’.

By the way, those emotive strings were curtesy of fellow Irish guy, Colm Mac Con Iomarire, of The Frames notoriety.

That said, melodies and emotion reign supreme in this music. ‘St. John’s Eve’ has quasi tabla percussion, euphoric strings, and an Eastern vibe—with a nice combustion of comforted tension. The same is true for the dreamy and up-beat ‘Till The Rivers Run Dry’ that flows with an urgency (Thank you, Colm’s strings!) that recalls the pop folk perfection of The Sutherland Brothers And Quiver, circa Reach For The Sky. Nice! Then, ‘Lovelorn’ has even more depth in its melodic devotion. The tune (with lovely piano) touches late night star-gazing comfort. Ditto for the irresistible and pulsing ‘Restless Sea,’ which could (almost) be a really nice Al Stewart tune from his commercial Year Of The Cat period, or perhaps to get a bit obscure, the folk song pop beauty of those post John David Gladwin Amazing Blondel albums like Blondel, Inspiration, and Mulgrave Street. This nice production (those strings, again!) only enhances the melodic power of the song.

But then, ‘Raven’s Cry’ gets acoustic with deep folk (violin driven) mystery and backing vocals that echo in weird mysticism.

And, ‘Once In My Life’ is a broad map of folk patience. This song has slow-danced beauty with big almost surreal backing vocals and even more tender piano and featherbed strings.

In total contrast, ‘Half-Life’ is a quick-stepped (sort of) music hall ode to The Beatles’ ‘Ob-La-Di-Ob-La Da’ memory. It’s a nice juxtaposition to the before-mentioned deep folk mystery of the rest of the album.

The final songs fill ancient folk space with a new melodic menu. ‘Lyric & Air’ returns to the stratosphere with a vocal duet with Cathy Davey, and yet more emotive violin. Then, ‘Come Undone’ gazes into murky waters and touches the foot pedal of psych searching folk music, with a hint of Eastern mysticism.  Really nice! And the final song, ‘Floating Aimlessly,’ continues that thought, with its very gentle acoustic paint brushed melodic portrait, while all that production stuff simply provides lush background scenery. It’s a soft ending to a really nice record with deep melodies and emotive strings with that slight memory of a quite lovely baroque folk flavour.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Lyric & Air’ – official video: