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Faun Fables - Mother Twilight  CD (album) cover

MOTHER TWILIGHT

Faun Fables

 

Prog Folk

3.97 | 10 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars ‘Mother Twilight’ (along with ‘Early Song’) was released in the wake of Faun Fables’ well-received 2004 ‘Family Album’. While ‘Early Song’ was never officially released prior to the Drag City issue, ‘Mother Twilight’ was a hand-assembled, self-released work that Dawn McCarthy sold at her live shows between 2001 and 2003. Good luck finding one of those copies.

For some reason the Drag City version was released in a conventional jewel case instead of a more tasteful and more eco-friendly digipack like her other studio CDs ‘Family Album’ and ‘The Transit Rider’. That doesn’t affect the music in any way of course, but it is sort of interesting.

Like ‘Family Album’ the songs here are somewhat dark, although not really in a goth or depressing way. They’re more like pagan music at times, especially when McCarthy cuts loose with a (well- formed) howl or whistle, or when she contorts her deep, rich vocals to hit notes you’d typically expect out of an oboe or cello.

My favorite track is easily “Sleepwalker”, a song where she starts off rather masculine sounding before breaking into a soprano chant followed by a casual folk tune backed by acoustic guitar and autoharp, along with what sounds like a xylophone. McCarthy ends the song with a long vocal sustain followed by primal shouts and finally another verse of folk music before an abrupt ending. Everything about this some says it was carefully thought out and every note and nuance was introduced for specific effect.

Nils Frykdahl plays not only acoustic guitar and autoharp but also piccolo on “Hela”, another track where McCarthy indulges in what sounds like Nordic pagan chanting amid acoustic guitar and autoharp, while on “Traveller Returning” (misspelled on purpose in the liner notes) she and Frykdahl alternate vocals with stark acoustic guitar backing and not much else.

All the songs on the album are about traveling in one way or another, such as the theatrical “Train” which uses electric guitar and overdubbed vocals to simulate the thwack-thwack-thwack persistent rhythm of a rail train in motion; or the bizarre harmonizing spiritual “Beautiful Blade” which seems to be about ocean travel but I can’t be quite sure even after reading the lyrics. The title track reflects on various travels during which the twilight is observed from different locales, and is accented for a world feel by the piccolo and various percussive instruments. The most normal song is “Lightning Rods”, a fairly straightforward acoustic folk tune, but even here McCarthy’s unique vocal talents make it come off as more like indie-meets-world music.

“Catch Me” runs a close second to “Sleepwalker” for favorite tune. This one sounds a bit closer to the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum stuff Frykdahl does when not spending his time trying to keep the better half happy. Much of the percussion is uncredited but there is a lot of it, and also electric guitar and chopped, irregular timing and tempo shifts that make the music a bit difficult to follow but energizing nonetheless. The two songs are about as different as can be but somehow McCarthy makes them work together on the same album.

The album as a whole is less cohesive than ‘The Transit Rider’ or ‘Family Album’, both of which can claim to be theme albums to some degree. But maybe the lack of continuity in theme works to this record’s favor, as one doesn’t know what to expect from one track to the next, which makes for a sense of anticipation that concept albums sometimes lack. In any case I’m going to say this is a four star effort like her other two studio albums, and recommend it to the same sort of people. Enjoy.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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