Fellow Pynins’ Lady Mondegreen is an endlessly intriguing and very acoustically melodic Rorschach Ink Blot Test that resurrects and interprets the waters of ancient folk song magic. But, as the Greek guy Heraclitus once said, “You cannot step into the same river twice”. So, this record sings an old song; but it rides a very current current that bubbles with modern coffee house wisdom.
Dani Aubert and Ian George (all the way from Oregon!) have created, through the resurrection of tradition tunes, an album that gives a continual glance into the soul of humanity’s endless river that flows through its complex heart. Folk music, in its best moments, can sometimes do just that.
The music here treads the high wire longitudinal precipice smack dab between England’s mythical land of Wessex and the rough-cut green mountains of Appalachia America. It’s just an idea, but perhaps, Richard Thompson’s ‘Great Valerio’ walked that very same tightrope.
My friend, Kilda Defnut, concurred and said, “This is music that stirs old bones into brand new dance moves”.
As said, folk music, in its best moments, can sometimes do just that.
These are all traditional tunes. ‘Silver Dagger’ (once covered by Joan Baez!) opens with a pulsating banjo and Dani’s vocal, but it is quickly joined by Ian’s acoustic guitar and harmony voice. Indeed, this is an Appalachian melodic mountain ride. But (and oh my!), ‘The Road To Dundee’ is English folk at its dartboard perfect pub bullseye best. The song graces the very same pastoral “woodbine and ivy” as (the great!) John Martyn’s traditional cover of ‘Spencer The Rover’. And the dual voices simply enhance the passion. This is folk magic. Then, ‘Bonny At Morn’ conjures even more of mystical Britain with a tulle timeless touch that could well be a tune played as a soundtrack while reading the liner notes of Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day album that details her “pilgrimage” with “Robert and Bess (the horse) and Blue (the dog) and an old green wagon fleeing London for the outer Hebrides”. Put simply: this is more magic.
But, ‘Pretty Polly’ returns to Appalachian Americana banjo and acoustic guitar fueled dual voiced ballad drama.
As does the violin-laced ‘Streets Of Derry’, which (sort of) seeps into America’s immigrant heart with sweet memories of home. Perhaps, the music of The Pentangle (circa their Reflection album) comes to mind.
Then, the tone thickens: The atmospheric ‘She’s Like A Swallow’, swirls with an impressionistic brush stroke of a Turner watercolour with the emergence of trumpeter Tree Palmedo and trombonist John Cushing. This is eerie stuff. Perhaps, it orbits the outer circumference of acid folk. And ‘Son David’, (which was perfected by June Tabor & Oysterband on their Ragged Kingdom album and also given the ‘Edward’ guise on Steeleye Span’s Back In Line record) gets a really nice coat of languid jazzy brass paint that recalls the rather beautiful sunset to (the also very great!) Roy Harper’s ‘When The Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease’ from his brilliant HQ album.
I ask: Is it bad luck to use the word “magic” for a third time in an album review?
The final song, ‘Galway Shawl’, is simple, direct, and very human with pre-song studio chatter and (what sounds like) a field recording which then flows into the song proper, all contained within a continuous theme of the record that was surmised by my friend, Kilda Defnut, who also said, “This is music that stirs old bones into a brand-new slow dance sway”.
Just a curio: the clever album title is the poster child for misinterpreted words, as sadly, “the bonny Earl o’ Moray” (as Hamlet suggested with deep poetry!) was left to “shuffle off this mortal coil” sans loving companion, and there was no “Lady Mondegreen” to die, tragically, by her lover’s side, as she is just a mistaken (and doomed to be the subject in an article written in Hearing Loss Journal!) lover created by American writer Sylvia Wright who misheard the original line, that said, our “bonny Earl’s” foe the Earl of Huntly had “layd him on the green”.
And by the way, Creedence Clearwater Revival guy John Fogerty never did sing, “There’s a bathroom on the right”.
But there’s nothing illusive here: This album catches the cold wind of ancient tragedy. This time, the very real album Lady Mondegreen steps, with crystal clear songs and old-time memories, all of which flow into an endlessly melodic “river” that, thankfully, is never “the same”. And that’s a very nice thing for a folk album to always to do.
Artists’ website: http://www.fellowpynins.com/
‘Silver Dagger’ – official video: