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Thieves' Kitchen - One For Sorrow, Two For Joy CD (album) cover


Thieves' Kitchen

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars 2013 brings the fifth album of this very talented British band and the wait of the fans for this new opus,definitelly worth it!It's another excellent album for THIEVES KITCHEN,and shows the natural progression of the band!TK definitelly has it's own style-Amy's voice is pure and trully heavenly on this album and all the musical ensemble is very solid and precise in it's musical message!What I really like and admire at TK is the jazzy approach and feeling when we listen Amy's voice-definitelly the big ace in the hands of the band,its trademark in fact!A very beautiful voice which slowly melts,flowing between the instruments and offers the listeners an excellent audition and brings them in a very special mood!The presence of the piano is another wonderful aspect of aTK's music and fits perfectly good in the mix of the musical ideas exposed !The compositions are quite long-only a track is under 7 minutes-the instrumental part of all songs is trully significant-what I miss a little-is the presence of more guitar solos in every track -only in the final song of the album-the brilliant composition OF SPARKS AND SPIRES -we can admire the guitar wizardry of Phil Mercy in a very attractive and spectacular guitar solo!The flute is another instrument which is perfectly well included in the TK's musical alchemy-and brings a special tone and feeling to the music!The production is very good and the sound of each instrument is clear and precise-Amy's voice is very well mixed too!A wonderful album which deserves many auditions to be fully understood-clever texts too-a mention for that -and the feeling that THIEVE'S KITCHEN still has a huge potential to deliver another excellent albums in the future!4.5 stars to a very likeble and solid eclectic prog album- a musical delicacy!
Report this review (#911391)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The fifth album from Thieves' Kitchen finds them further exploring the jazzy symphonic fusion feel that marked their previous gem, 'The Water Road', and, like previous albums, 'One For Joy, Two For Sorrow' has a personality of its own. The flute adds a lot to these fine compositions, particular in the concluding opus, 'Of Sparks and Spires', and my favorite track, 'Hypatia', which I think is a fantastic piece of music, marked my great melodies, superb composition, and lovely vocals. 'Deor' comes in very strong as well, but the chorus might be repeated a time too many, so that by the end of the song I wasn't quite as enamored as I was during the first half of the song. 'Germander Speedwell' is another great track, featuring acoustic guitar, and reminding me a bit of 'Cirrus Bay'. 'The Weaver' is the one short track, a pretty acoustic piece that is growing on me, and 'A Fool's Journey' is a heavier piece, reminiscient of their earlier music. Overall, an excellent album throughout, with a whole lot more to offer than most of today's music, even among the prog world. 4 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#913150)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been a long lay off for Thieves' Kitchen, Phil Mercy's hand tendon problems have made it five years since the band released the very well received "The Water Road". They return in January 2013 with this album featuring the same line up. After the first track which is just a rendition by Amy of the children's nursery rhyme about magpies it's on with the music. This is a good album with thoughtful lyrics and likeable songs, many of the lyrics seem to be influenced by ancient British mythology and paganism. Phil Mercy's guitar playing is a bit overstated and showy at times but in general he does find the right balance. On the other hand, the keyboards of Thomas Johnson, a long time member of Anglagard, are certainly more understated and stay mostly in the background. He does contributes an excellent mellotron solo midway through the track "Fool's Journey" and he makes a vital contribution to the jazzy sounding parts of the track "Of Sparks And Spires". This track and others also features lovely flute work by another Anglagard member, Anna Holmgren . Johnson's keyboard work is integral (even when in the background) to the success of this album as are the terrific vocals of Amy Darby. The tracks "Germander Speedwell" and "The Weaver" are mostly tranquil and acoustic in nature with the former praising the beauty of the light blue flower of that name while the latter includes pagan and Anglo-Saxon phrases in its lyrics to tell of the weaving of ancient tales. In conclusion, a very nice album, a little bit like Solstice in style, well worth buying and giving an extended listen.
Report this review (#916401)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Kicking off with a magpie-themed nursery rhyme, One for Sorrow, Two for Joy marks the point where Thieves' Kitchen have become periliously close to being the proverbial axe whose head has been replaced five times and whose handle has been replaced three times; with the departure of Mark Robotham (replaced by guest drummer Paul Mallyon), only Phil Mercy remains from the "Head" lineup. In addition, it's also the first album to follow the departure of the Andy Bonham/Mark Robotham rhythm section which had underpinned the band's sound since Argot, and in fact the album is recorded with a "guest" rhythm section.

Of course, bands have survived lineup fluctuations before and thrived (see the example of Renaissance, for instance), and arguably Thieves' Kitchen have never quite managed to actually deploy a stable lineup from album to album. However, the lineup troubles since The Water Road have resulted in something of a musical regression, with the band essentially reverting to a sound reminiscent of Argot or Shibboleth. Despite Anna Holmgren's presence on flute, the band seem less keen on chasing the intriguing explorations of earlier prog - particularly protean prog sounds from the early days of the scene - which had made The Water Road such an engaging listen. I suppose this one will pass muster in the eyes of the band's fans, but I can't help but think the band are treading water and not actually getting anywhere.

Report this review (#931952)
Posted Sunday, March 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars I was on the other night posting up some old reviews, and one of these was for TK's 'Shibboleth'. It was only then that I noticed that they had a new album out, so I went over to their website and after swapping some emails with guitarist Phil Mercy I ended up with a copy of 'One For Sorrow'. I originally got involved with TK when they formed in the late Nineties as I knew drummer Mark Robotham who had previously been with Grey Lady Down, but he is no longer with the band. 'Shibboleth' was their third album, and to my ears easily their best, although I did question at the time as to whether the band should consider becoming an instrumental group as I felt that their complexity didn't always leave enough room for vocalist Amy Darby. Apparently there has been an album between this and the last one I heard, and there have also been some line-up changes in that while Thomas Johnson (keyboards, ex-Anglagard) is there with Amy and Phil, the rest of the band are currently guests with Paul Mallyon (drums), Brad Waissman (bass) and Anna Holmgren (flute, also from Anglagard).

But, this doesn't come across as a project in any way as this is a band that know exactly what they are about. The music is incredibly complex, and at times has a hard rocking neo- prog guitar edge while at others it is much more symphonic. However, the big difference for me is that there appears to be a far greater understanding of the nuances of atmosphere and delicacy, combined with loads of control. This means that Phil and Thomas are quite happy to take the lead on instrumental passages yet also know when to rein it in and provide just the right amount of space for Amy. She has an incredible voice, particularly in regard to her breath and note control so that long drawn out sections is not an issue for her. At these times her voice is very much to the forefront, lifted over the maelstrom that is going on behind her. Thomas uses a great deal of different keyboard sounds and textures and that definitely adds to the picture that they paint.

As always, Rob Aubrey has done a sterling job with the production, so it doesn't matter if it is a quiet passage or bombastic, everything can be clearly heard and give the right emphasis. If I had to pick just one band for comparison then the obvious would be Renaissance, but with Amy singing more contralto than Annie's soprano. I am extremely reticent to provide more than one album with a 5 * rating in a sitting, and I have just done that with the new Comedy of Errors CD, but in all conscience I can't give it any less. I love it.

Report this review (#945193)
Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love Thieves' Kitchen! Vocalist Amy Darby is so unique--kind of a cross between THINKING PLAGUE's vocalist from 1996-2008, Deborah Perry, and the great ANNIE HASLEM. She has a strong, soothing voice that delivers her lyrics clearly, cleanly and yet with a melodic styling that is both unusual and interesting. On this new album the band is joined by some (ex-?) ANGLAGARD members to great effect--Thomas Johnson's keyboards, though mostly serving in a support role, and Anna Holmgren's flute contributions are quite welcome and provide a warmth and fullness that support Amy's vocals quite wonderfully. As always, I absolutely adore the pastoral themes--both musically and lyrically--that Amy and Rob explore.

Favorite songs: the gorgeous epic 5. "Germander Speedwell" (14:32) (30/30) which is a welcome addition to my all-time favorite prog epic list; the simple yet perfect folk song "The Weaver" (4:33) (10/10) and 2. "Deor" (7:51) (9/10). "Hypatia" (8:56), "A Fool's Journey" (8:19), and the jazzier "Of Sparks and Spires" (12:49) are each solid, interesting, and pleasurable 8/10 songs.

A 4.5 star album that I'm not (yet) willing to elevate to "masterpiece" status. Give it some more time. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#972875)
Posted Friday, June 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over two months of listening to "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy," I've been transfixed by its beauty. What an emotionally satisfying listen. This album is another affirmation of the welcome revival of outstanding music from the UK (see also Sanguine Hum and Big Big Train). Phil Mercy's writing has continued to develop depth and sophistication. The stately (but not lugubrious) pace the album takes for much of its length makes it easy to settle into for an uninterrupted listen.

If I were to describe the music, I would say it takes the harmonic approach of the first two National Health albums and folds it into a verdant English pastoral mood. The textures are usually "lush" but never thick and congested, always supporting and never overwhelming Amy Darby's beautiful singing. I can't help comparing her to Amanda Parsons in the climax of "Of Sparks and Spires." There's plenty of shifting terrain for the rhythmic section (half of Sanguine Hum's "Diving Bell" configuration), but never in a tricky way, always following the contours and shapes of the melody and drama. The melodies stick with me and float pleasingly throughtout my mind long after a listen. It's lovingly recorded with a wonderful sense of texture and naturalness and no hint of producer-itis.

If you have a taste for sophisticated symphonic prog with that unmistakable British thing about it, you really owe it to yourself to have this album.

Report this review (#1121644)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars I actually wanted to get "The Water Road". It was in my Amazon stand by cart for nearly two years. Then "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy" came out and they both sat in my cart. Finally I decided to get "The Water Road" and it was gone, no longer available except as an expensive import. So I quickly snatched up this album.

I first heard about Thieves' Kitchen back in 2012 when I was seeking out new prog bands and stumbled across them on iTunes. At the time I liked only some songs but not enough to want to buy an album. Their mention in the book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock" by Stephen Lambe made me change my mind. But "One for Sorrow" seems not like the best place to start with this band.

After a brief child's rhyme, the music begins and sounds promising enough. There's the usual electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. It's when the vocals come in that things start to go the opposite direction from which I'd hoped. Now it's not that Amy Darby is a bad singer. At first I thought she was good but unremarkable. However, listening more carefully I have come to think that the vocals lines for this song were just not meant for most singers. She has to sing low and throw in an occasional higher note and hold these low notes. It feels more like someone trying to sing over a prog instrumental. The next song doesn't fair any better and here I feel the lyrics sound as forced as the singing: "The cosmos in its scale / Like Isis unveiled / To the all-seeing eye". There's a pleasant bit of flute followed by some nice piano, the only redeeming virtues of this song for me.

"A Fool's Journey" is a surprise because of the heavy riff. As I had Black Sabbath's "13" in my iPhone music library at the time I first heard this song, I was for a moment puzzled as to why Black Sabbath suddenly got cued up. Yet despite the heavy riff, the production of this album is not like a metal one, and the song can no longer be confused with the metal legends. It's a powerful track musically and in some ways a good change at least as far as the singing goes. But in the end I feel something was missing to make it a successful hit with me.

"Germander Speedwell" is the longest track and it's the instrumental parts that save it as the vocal tracks again follow a similar stretched out and almost tiresome style. I don't think even Janis Joplin could have made these vocal lines work.

It's not until "The Weaver", a short acoustic folk piece, that at last Darby seems to have been able to capture her voice in the song. For that matter, it's only here where I first find myself really enjoying listening to the music. Prior to this, a lot if not most of it, sounds like a colour-by-numbers attempt to create a modern prog feeling but even though the bass and drums are working, they don't seem to manage anything inspiring. At times pretty good; at other times rather generic.

The final track is also a longer one, just over 12 minutes, and it's here at last that I feel the band found its inspiration. The music has energy and purposefulness. The band seem to know what they are doing and why at last and there's feeling in the playing. It's too bad that a couple of more songs on this album didn't have that energy.

I'm afraid that I can't get excited about this album. I've listened to it a few times and added songs to mixed playlists hoping to find something outstanding but I can't. I've read other reviews that say "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy" is a weaker album in TK's discography, so it seems I'm not the only one to feel something is lacking. It's not a huge disappointment but worthy only of a flat three stars and nothing more.

Report this review (#1524164)
Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2016 | Review Permalink

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