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Iona - Woven Cord CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.70 | 24 ratings

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Theo Verstrael
5 stars Iona has become one of the mst intersting bands I know. Their intricate combination of tranquil musical passages with outbursts of guitar and Uillean pipes are, in my opinion, very attractive. But sometimes the song writing seems to be a little unclear, as if melodies and chords come to a point where it is far from obvious which way to head for. That most certainly accounts for their latest studio album, ´Circling hour´. And it surely is not applicable to this great live album.

When you are acquainted to Iona´s music it seems very obvious that playing with a full orchestra would sooner or later take place. In 1999 it actually happened and what a splendid evening that must have been!! Just listen to the first two tracks of this album and you´ll know what I mean. The first is the instrumental ´Overture´ in which the All Souls Orchestra more or less presents itself. It is an original piece of music that takes you right into pastoral Great Britain. Very classical yet perfectly fitting in with Iona´s music. That is proven by the second track, the well-known Be-Se I Mo Shuil part I in which the interplay between Joanne Hogg and the orchestra already reaches very high peaks. In Matthew the Man that is taken a step further as the full band plunges in, with the Uillean pipes of Troy Donockly and the guitar of Dave Bainbridge taking the lead. And so they do! It is a true outburst that will have had an overwhelming effect on the audience. But halfway this beautiful song the orchestra becomes dominant again in a very moody, very soft middle section that gives this epic song a dramatic character. It already proves that this is truly a master piece in the vein of Renaissance' Live at the Carnegie Hall. The studio songs get a new treatment here and without exception it does them well, which is remarkable because the setlist only contains good songs. To me 'Dancing on the wall', which was just one of the songs on the debut album, profits most from the orchestra. It becomes less predictable and more in the line of songs Iona recorded on the latter albums. And also 'Encircling', another epic on this album, is in this live version to be preferred over the studio version. The different sections of this song seem to fit better with the orchestra playing the bridges.

As on all Iona albums the vocals are of outstanding quality. Joanne Hogg ranks amongst the best vocalists, definitely in the folk rock scene but probably even in the whole prog rock scene. She has such a distinctive and beautiful voice and she manages to sing so well, it's almost incredible.

Some may find the religion-inspired lyrics irritating. Although I have nothing with Christian beliefs I don't bother that most lyrics get their inspriation from Christianity.

For those of you who liked 'Live at the Carnegie Hall', Camel's 'A live record' or Caravan's 'Caravan & New Symphonia' this a another gem to lay your hands on. For all others this is a perfect album to get to know this splendid and original band.

Theo Verstrael | 5/5 |


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