THE MEADOWS – Dreamless Days (Pokey Cupboard Records POKEYCD3)

Dreamless DaysThe Meadows’ Dreamless Days is a rare bird of an album that flutters with butterfly beauty, grace, and deep melodic magic; and with their self-penned tunes, they manage to dive deeply into mystic Welsh lore, yet they cleverly avoid any new age shallow serenity.

Dreamless Day balances on a gentle folky tightrope walk over a razorblade river of deep folk tradition. And, there’s an almost classical-chamber soul in this music.

‘Lullaby’ sets the tone. Titania Meadow (it’s a family affair!) sings with sheer beauty, while a piano and violin add an aged wisdom to the tune. This is very precious music, but again, it has the heavy slow depth of (to tap into Welsh mythology!) a Taliesin prophecy, which by the way, predicted it would be Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon and Cynan, not Arthur, who would return to save Britain from those nasty Saxons!

And just so you know, the other Meadows members (all hailing from Carmarthenshire in South West Wales!) are Melody, Fantasia, and Harvey— they all play piano, flute, recorder, violin, guitar, bodhran, and they all sing. Not only that, but according to their bio, Melody is also a “keen cook’.

That said, ‘Elusive Beauty’ continues with its multi-voiced, piano framed pulse. Then a violin caresses the melody. In a way, this recalls Kate Bush in her most intimate moments, Sally Oldfield on her brilliant Waterbearer album, and to get more esoteric, the mystical music of Fiona Joyce. But truly, the song is a modern take on the theme of John Keats’s ‘Ode On A Grecian Urn’ and its “mad pursuit” of those “unheard melodies”. Yeah, this album is shamelessly palpable in its intended quest. As John Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”.

My friend, Kilda Defnut, who is a big fan of the Mediaeval Babes, simply said, “This album is a soundtrack to that fairy tale in which Rapunzel gets to lay down her golden hair”.

That (also) said, there is more Welsh folk music. The up-temp ‘Merlin’s Oak And Other Tales’ is a full-band ancient woodland voiced tune that sings with crop circle mystery—and has an irresistible (almost poppy!) chorus to boot!  And ‘Castell Dryslwyn’ is again, a fully voiced lively instrumental, with a lovely flute and violin conversation that is almost classical in its perfection, and it touches the folk purity of Ireland’s Chieftains or Scotland’s Whistlebinkies. Big praise, there.

Then, there’s more serene piano laced passion. ‘The Dried White Rose’ quietly footsteps a razorblade emotion. The title song, ‘Dreamless Days’, again, is gentle, melodic, and filled with late night melodic contemplation; and it is haloed with that violin and flute that float over the tune with wings of sympathetic pathos. ‘There’s You’ continues the sheer beauty, and it conjures the voices of several ghosts versed in sad Celtic wisdom.

‘Gelli Aur’ quickens the pace with another full band (with bodhran percussion!) instrumental that is a wonderful juxtaposition to the previous introspection.

And then there’s ‘Dream You Into Life’, which captures the complex ethos of this album: It’s a bit of an obvious love song with gorgeous a melody; yet the song is a deep contemplation of reality – which is the overriding theme of the entire album. Yes, this is ephemeral music that is deeply rich in the minor key questions of human existence.

The final songs continue the quiet passion. ‘Spin A Dream’ slowly erupts with instrumental bliss and glances toward an Eastern vibe. Then, a brief epic ‘The Tide’ is dramatic and it pulses passion, while once more, the flute and violin soar with hopeful delight over a stony emotional shoreline that always knows the certainty that “you can’t stop the force of the tide”.

Indeed, as John Keats wrote, “And, happy melodist, unwearied, /Forever piping songs forever new”. Dreamless Days is an album of “elusive beauty” that’s rich like a Grimm’s tale of cascading hair, which in a very golden way, beckons, thankfully, an ancient fable into a very modern and very folky world.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website: https://www.themeadowsband.co.uk/

‘Elusive Dreams’ – official video:

Folking.com’s very own Paul Johnson, and the Folking.com team look forward to covering the New Forest Folk Festival again this year with bigger and better coverage.

Paul will be at The New Forest Folk Festival bringing folking.com coverage and as many of his audio interviews with the performers as he can grab and Lewis Beech will be face-booking, insta-gramming and Tweeting from the festival all weekend. ~ find out more here ~

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