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Perry Leopold - Christian Lucifer CD (album) cover


Perry Leopold


Prog Folk

4.68 | 31 ratings

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5 stars Lucifer, charismatic and gentle

Following the experiments started in the 60s - folk music suddenly grew out of its, by then, increasingly uncomfortably tiny shell, branching out in a wide variety of sonic ventures. Bands like Tea & Symphony and The Incredible String Band were already stretching the boundaries of the "genre" towards the end of the decade, and with the new one unfolding the sounds and different undertakings were suddenly taken to another level altogether - culminating in the likes of Comus' First Utterance and Jan Dukes de Grey's rather cacophonous masterpiece Mice and Rats in the loft. There were, however, still the odd leftovers from the preceding decade, people who seemed enamoured with the feel of sweet crisp atmospheres of a bare naked acoustic guitar served up with a singer-song writer's heart and soul.

Perry Leopold fits in with the latter, and just popping this record on the stereo will send you off to a time where people wore flowers as garments and happily sat down in the grasses at a concert. This is how Christian Lucifer feels to me. The fact that Leopold was an avid tourer of coffee houses and green pastured knolls does indeed add another dimension to my line of thinking, but it is more than that. The music contained within this somewhat obscure album never looses its temper and transforms into what many other folk rockers were trying at the time, that is the kind of pseudo rock you'd hear on some of the aforementioned acts, -no no, on this little album the feel is grounded and warm - slowly wandering guitar sprinklings that hold your hand while they whisper softly in your ear.

Realising that I am painting a picture of a hippie antiquity out of time, I must confess that there is far more to the equation than just that. Far more. First of all, one of the more brilliant and intelligent attributes of this release, and Perry Leopold no less, is the fact that these soft and warm folk melodies are hiding the true colours of the songs. There is a devil lurking underneath with forked tongue and a big smirk on his face - telling you stories of beautiful garden roses and sunsets red, all the while he's stealing your soul and setting fire to your house. In other words: there is a great counter pointing effect that underlines all of this record - painting shadows all over the place like a dark menacing wizard of the underworld. These next lines speak volumes of the sort of masked danger hiding beneath the obvious feel good vibe:

"Fire... breathing clouds tell of treason. Father... are your prayers out of season. In the mourning... when the Son returns to shine. Heed the warning... see the light

You say you're hoping to find. All the love in the world. Waiting to hear the chimes. Ringing in the new world (of love...) The new world (of love...) But the Sun King carries out... His Word..."

Apart from the lyrical universe, the devil is very much in the details - meaning that on the face of it, the music doesn't exactly spell Lucifer or anything close to that, but when you really submerse yourself in the moods and ambiances of the tracks, you suddenly encounter a whole new world stretching out in front of you. Whether it chooses to appear in the form clavinet, bassoon, French horn, cellos, flute or the occasional moog synth excursion - there is always something happening away from the straightforwardness of Leopold's earthy guitar. One of my absolute favourite things about Christian Lucifer is the omnipresent oboe that wafts over and under the music like some kind of mellow serenade of sadness. What this instrument lacks in power and girth, it conveys through pure feel and intonation, and rather like the voice of the man himself here, the oboe gives off that nasally charged melody that marries so well together with the rest of the musical imagery.

Whilst Perry Leopold's music may sound like a second cousin to Roy Harper - he never really hits those same frail and quivering vocal notes. His voice is sweeter and rounder with a touch of masculine meatiness to the low basement notes - reminding this listener of a softer and cleaner version of Ian Anderson. Leopold basically has two instruments where his voice counts as the more versatile of the lot.

I heartily recommend this little album to anybody with a penchant for the late 60s folk scene, and to people who fancy the likes of Roy Harper, John Fahey, Bert Jansch, Tim Buckley and John Renbourn. Christian Lucifer is a record that enhances the orange colours of a fading sun - it makes the food and wine taste better, and in spite of its gentle nature, it still manages to compliment the darker beauty of the lyrical content hiding underneath.

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |


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