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The Merlin Bird - Reason and Rhyme CD (album) cover


The Merlin Bird

Prog Folk

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4 stars The Merlin Bird are an Australian band I have been aware of for some time, but I had actually thought they were rejected so it's nice to see them arrive here on PA.

So far this is their only release, 17 minutes of charming, melodic folk music. The music is largely vocally driven, but there is a good variety of vocalists carrying this torch, including multiple male and female vocalists. The opening track, for example, is carried forward by the lead male vocals and the drumming, but swirling layers of female vocals behind it give it great character.

I discovered these guys because of their opening and closing tracks (Rhyme to Reason and Reason to Rhyme, respectively), which were included on the CD in an issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog. But the entire album is up to the quality these tracks hinted at, with lush arrangements and lovely, melodic music. The frail female vocals in "Father of all Storms", singing "All will be well, I know somehow all will be well" are a particular emotional highlight.

The only downside is that, being an EP, this album will be over long before you are ready for it to end. I know that for me, it definitely got many back-to-back listens for this reason! Let's hope that the band is able to complete their next record soon.

Report this review (#600508)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Merlin Bird started basically as a duo in Melbourne, Australia.Keyboardist and singer Geoff Dawes and drummer Dan Maloney were the headquarters of this project, but their first work would be finished with the help of female singer Shakira Searle, guitarist Dave O'Toole and bassist Dylan Stevenson.It would be the short EP ''Reason and rhyme'', released in 2003, mainly as a digital download with a few supporting CD copies.

The most impressive thing about this first effort is actually the most important one: Great and consistent songwriting.The Merlin Bird's style follows the colors of IONA's music and the ingredients of this excellent EP are mixed almost with perfection.Beautiful vocals, both based on lyrics and wordless chants, smooth acoustic textures and ethereal Celtic-inspired tunes.These would be supported by some melodic electric guitars and a fair amount of background keyboards, eventually creating majestic and cinematic soundscapes.As no other instruments are used, traditional echoes from bagpipes and harps are delivered through the keyboard equipment, having a decent, natural sound.MIKE OLDFIELD is also another name to spring to mind, listening to this album.The romantic electroacoustic changes, the discreet use of piano and the grandiose, Folk-flavored textures are offered with sincere passion and sensitivity, complemented by some of the best vocal melodies you can listen to.This is an album based on nostalgic atmospheres with enough elaborate and cleverly composed stuff to regard it as progressive.

Clocking at only 17 minutes, ''Reason and rhyme'' can do nothing else than leave the listener wanting for more.Amazing Neo Prog/Folk with the only negative factor being its extremely short length.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1172669)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars I don't even know if this group plays Christian rock, and the title of their recently released first full length album implies such, but this all too short EP from some years back evokes a sense of wonder and awe that one would expect to find more in popular devotional music. From the lush production to the harmonious vocals to the Olde English styled melodies, this is a true delight from down under. They bring to mind FARPOINT from the Southern USA but their male and female vox are less at odds, and they radiate a much more united stylistic vision.

Here we have basically three short tracks interspersed with tracks, such that one barely stumbles into the glade before getting spun back out onto the sidelines. The opening of "Rhyme to Reason" eerily recalls early MOODY BLUES psychedelia, but MERLIN BIRD is able to wed this ethereal quality to earthiness with breathless verses and hypnotically rhythmic acoustic textures. A well placed lead guitar interlude ups the progressive rock ante. Still, the EP really crests on "The Father of Storms", a dignified ode to natural and human unpredictability as the pure source of their beauty. Those who enjoy earth centered music will willingly acquiesce.

It took a number of listens for me to realize just how short changed I feel, but I'm glad to have discovered "The Merlin Bird" now at a time when the band/duo has actually issued a proper release called "Chapter and Verse". Reasons to be cheerful.

Report this review (#1177077)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Review Permalink

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