PAINTED SKY – From The Blue (Gilded Lily Records)

From The BluePainted Sky’s From The Blue is a lovely album of British folk music from the siblings George and Holly Brandon, which juxtaposes soft acoustic strummed harmonious songs, “gypsy jazz”, a “Morris jig”, and a joyous banjo pluck or two against a Thomas Hardy Casterbridge eerie signpost superstition, all amid a “Cold Blow And A Rainy Night” violin vibe. Thank you, Holly!

From The Blue is like an ancient melodic card game. There are only so many of the very same old cards, but each game reshuffles the deck. And then the clever folk tune begins, once again.

‘Devil In The Sun’ bounces with vocals, acoustic guitar, and violin breath. The song strings a catchy melody against a strident tension that swirls with the macabre mystery of those (great) Dransfield brothers.

And then the abrupt ‘Ktsat Savlant’ dances with a whirling dervish hot saber violin and percussion instrumental fiery pulse. And that hot saber violin nods toward the Scandinavian fiddle tone of great groups like Frifot, Varttina, and the hybrid (English/Scottish/Norway) Fribo. Then ‘The Three Tuns/Mrs. Thorn’’ kicks up the sawdust of a British barn dance romance. And ‘Dead Man’s Jumper’ (Nice title, that!) oscillates between cider-pumped frenzy and morning moments of introspection, recalling the brilliance of Scotland’s brilliant Shooglenifty.

In contrast, ‘Lakes Of Colfinn’ slows with the soft buoyant pace of a tragic tale of “Young Willie” who warns of eternal dreams with the caution of “false deep waters”. This is, to get all psychological, Carl Jung stuff.

The traditional ‘False True Love’ quietly drifts (alongside Ophelia!) with dual-voiced folk song tear-riven pathos of lost love. My friend, Kilda Defnut, an avid computer-generated solitaire player who is always ready with an apt comment (and dealing yet another hand in this card game metaphor), said of the song, “Well, speaking in poker lingo, this tune simply says, ‘Read ‘em and weep”.

As said, the deck gets shuffled, once more.

And speaking of yet another ‘False True Love’, the gentle violin-graced ‘Sprig Of Thyme’ confesses the contours of youthful innocence. It’s a lovely song, with such a sad touch on the immense human soul.

The banjo-infused instrumental ‘Mrs. Casey’ winds through countless melodic alleys and serves as pavement steps that lead to the sublime ‘From The Blue’. The title song rides with the uncertainty of early tidal energy, or perhaps, the expectancy of newly found love, sadly dissolved in the memories of the receding waves of soft and distant passion.

And there’s the final oddball violin dramatized dance (and computer spell-check confusing!) ‘Ochi Chernye/Petyorshka/Geamparale’ which, as promised, “jigs” with “gypsy jazz”. It’s a strange, perhaps unsettling, but cool exclamation point ending to an album that embraces the past yet manages to “Shuffle Off” in an Albion Dance Band way with yet another folk music poker hand with a brand new and always fresh set of melodic cards.

Bill Golembeski

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‘The Unquiet Grave’ – official video: