ROBERT ILLESH – To Horsenden (Opal Flame OFR-002)

ROBERT ILLESH To HorsendenRobert Illesh is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. To Horsenden is his second solo album but before you pigeon-hole him as a lone folky struggling in a garret, I should tell you that he’s spent the last couple of years playing in Yes tribute bands on the continent. It’s as a guitarist that he’s best known and a couple of the songs here are thinly disguised vehicles for his instrumental talents.

That said, this is a very enjoyable album if a little off-the-wall sometimes. The opener, ‘Strummin Dawg’, praises the healing properties of the guitar with Robert assuming a faux-blues voice. I still can’t decide whether it’s the right track to begin with or not but it certainly grabs the attention. The second track, ‘A Song For You’ is an instrumental on which Robert appears to treating a swannee whistle as a serious musical instrument and ‘After The Rain, Song’ contains a passage of some of the best finger guitar I’ve ever heard.

Most of the songs are originals or co-writes and with ‘Tiger Song’ Robert gets down to serious business. It took me a couple of listens to unravel the ecological message but it’s probably the most important song on the album. ‘Were You There?’, written with David Macrow returns to the style of the opening track although with a rather more serious theme but before that we have the album’s only cover, a slow, soulful version of ‘Matchbox Blues’ which owes more to Blind Lemon Jefferson than Carl Perkins.

As the album progresses things get more serious, a little more prog, after the light-hearted ‘A Day In June’ that is, bringing things to a satisfying conclusion. To Horsenden shows off Robert’s range and talent to full advantage.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

It’s tempting to post a video of Robert with Going For The One but that wouldn’t be fair. Here’s a “video” of ‘Strummin Dawg’ with one picture: