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Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood CD (album) cover

SONGS FROM THE WOOD

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.16 | 951 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Songs from the Wood" marks a clear return to the massive folk-oriented approach that had been first assumed by Jethro Tull in their "Minstrel" album; it also marks the first Palmer's collaboration as a full-time member: by then, Palmer decided to concentrate on complementing Evan's keyboard duties and take a momentary rest from string arrangements. This album contains some of the most frontally complex Anderson compositions ever (e.g.: tracks 1, 4 & 6), a factor that made all musicians return to their accomplished virtuosity and re-polish it after the simpler "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll" material. The namesake track kicks off the album with flying colours: the sheer excitement and energetic feel that stem out of the catchy troubadour-like vocal harmonies, the endless countermelodies and counterpoints, all of them skillfully performed, catch the listener's attention and mood immediately - a magnificent opener, indeed! Then comes the relaxing 'Jack-in-the-Green', full of evocative references to a time when myths where an integral part of man's cosmovision. Tracks 3, 5 & 7 bring us back the straight uplifting mood introduced by the opening number: 'Ring Out, Solstice Bells' is given an extra eerie ambience thanks to the use of soft synth layers that perfectly complement Anderson's floating flute lines and Barlow's tubular bells. 'Hunting Girl' tells the tales of gallant ladies in a delicate mixture of hard rock and folk with some subtle jazz undertones instilled in the piano parts - once again, the listener is granted a most amazing exercise on counterpoints. The folk factor is enhanced in another overtly complex piece, 'Velvet Green', which also incorporates exquisite Renaissance influenced elements: the intricacy of this track is cleverly delivered without breaking the delicateness demanded by the successive motifs. A real gem! - IMHO, this is the apex of an album that has so many brilliant moments in it. But when it comes to the grandiose stuff, the thing is 'Pibroch (Cap in Hand)', a progressive opus with a robust hard edge for the sung parts (Barre's guitar layers sound really sinister here), and a varied, multicolored tour-de-force in the interlude: first, you have an intimate Celtic celebration in the forest at night, around a little bonfire; then, a majestic keyboard orchestration delivered by Evan and Palmer brings us to a mystic plateau, where the moon and the stars shine in full swing illuminating out emotional elation. The return of the somber initial motif brings things back to the dense mysteries of the world of human myths. This opus, while not as articulated as other complex pieces of the album, manages to brilliantly deliver diverse climaxes all throughout its different sections. Finally, the melancholy 'Fire at Midnight' serves as an appropriate curtain call for an exciting album: the time for night rest that comes after all the consuming exhaustion of the day. This JT masterpiece deserves the perfect rating, according to Prog Archives patterns.

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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