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The Decemberists - The Crane Wife CD (album) cover

THE CRANE WIFE

The Decemberists

 

Prog Folk

3.96 | 127 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

cookieacquired
4 stars East meets West (and not in that Rush Hour, bit crap type of Hollywood fashion) in The Decemberist's 2006 album The Crane Wife. Take one of the most Victorian sounding bands since the aforementioned era, and let them loose on an old Japanese tale, and watch the magic unfold. First of all, the tale is told in a Tarantino type fashion, with the end (Part 3) kicking off the album, with that forlorn, dying love gloom that the Decemberists can do over and over and over again. The second to last track on the hour long romp is The Crane Wife Parts 1 and 2 which clocks in at over 10 minutes. Colin Meloy (pardon this next textile pun) weaves a good story with the lyrics, putting it lightly and just to the point where his lyrics and his voice sounds downright beautiful There's a bend in the wind/And it rakes at my heart/There is blood in the thread/And it rakes at my heart. The tone he puts into it makes it more believeable as a story, so props to Mr. Meloy there. This 15 minute epic is a great piece of prog-folk and forms the backbone of the album. I only wish they tried incorporating some Eastern Instuments, like a koto or a shamisen or something, into the song as I believe it would've added another dimension to the tale. But that's no reason to knock the song, as this way, The Crane Wife (the song) puts a fine Victorian, Western spin on the tale.

There also are 8 other songs on the album, that range in scope and scale. The Perfect Crime #2 is a single, through and through but this doesn't mean it's not a good song. It's very dancey if that word doesn't exist, and, while not a showcase for Colin's most intelligent lyrics, is a fun romp.

The Decemberists also penned another single in O! Valencia which also sounds nice and happy with the bouncy melody, until one hears the lyrics. The chorus goes thusly But O Valencia!/With your blood still warm on the groud/Valencia!/And I'll burn this whole city down. It's the happiest Romeo and Juliet style tragedy I've ever heard, I'll give it that.

Colin's soft croon has to share the limelight on Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then), with Laura Veir able to match Colin, with fine results. Not much else to say on this nice little track, but good lyrics by Colin, whose in his old-timey element with the Civil War-centric tale of love and leaving.

Now time for the track of the album award, which goes to...

THE ISLAND! (which also contains a bunch of subtitles, but I really don't care to include them)

This song probably cemented the case for why The Decemberists should be included on ProgArchives. It's 12 minutes long, and multiple movements. The lyrics are based around my personal favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest. It starts off with a very Pink Floydy, King Crimsony guitar riff and doesn't let go for the rest of the song. Waves crash, solos abound, all a sublimely lush atmosphere. Colin's voice demonstrates a full range that would be harder to achieve in the Decemberists old atmosphere. Over the course of the song, it goes from sounding mystical and foreboding, and vengeful and maniacal, with superb effect. A gem.

Finally, The Crane Wife closes with Sons and Daughters with an optimism that also didn't seem possible when listening to some of the earlier songs. It ends on a very uplifting note, though still seems to be inevitably laced with an air of unease, like the joyous rebuilding process after a long, bloody war.

Overall, a marvel of modern prog and prog folk. I have a bit much trepidation in giving this a 5 star rating, due to some of the middle songs which come off as somewhat lackluster, but I can safely give it an extremely beefy 4 stars. For prog listeners who want to hear more prog folk than just Jethro Tull and the Strawbs, this is also a great album for indie music fans to dive into the world of progressive music. I finally recommend this to people who love a good story, as Meloy's a master at this craft. Everyone however, must listen to The Island right now.

And on that imperative, commanding note, I'll end my review of The Crane Wife. Or on that summation and stepping back from the review Or on breaking the fourth wall of reviewing.

(Little note, sorry for the cop-out ending of my review, but I couldn't find the right way out of this)

cookieacquired | 4/5 |

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