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The Emerald Dawn - Visions CD (album) cover


The Emerald Dawn


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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was thoroughly enchanted with The Emerald Dawn's debut offering, a fabulous under-produced, yet enigmatic and stark slice of music, peppered with long tracks that seep deep into the mind. Sizzling and moaning guitar leads, sweeping orchestral keyboards, occasional sax blasts and a driving beat are the highlights as well as Tree Stewart's aching voice, a truly original sound that is laden with mystery and echo.

Their sophomore album is both a continuation and a progression of their sound, a lush and suave carpet of mellotron and organ that hearkens back at Floydian realms (sax not withstanding) on which a deliberate melancholia is layered in heavenly coats, fusing into a whole that enchants and exhilarates. The add-on of bassist Jayjay Quick only further mollifies any resistance to the infusion of mood and direction, as Alan Carter's saxophone and wild guitar rants like there is no tomorrow , while Tree orchestrates with her ivories and emotes with her lungs. Drummer Jackson keeps the beat on the road and propels thoughtfully. The opening salvo is a mammoth epic a 20 minute eruption, aptly titled 'Musique Noire', a confident statement right from the get go and aimed at the melodic jugular, sublimely cinematographic, sensual and evocative. Carter's effect-drenched guitar tone is deliciously muffled, which only adds to his stylistic charm, the seduction complete with heartfelt echoed vocals and a light percussive movement. The 'waiting' section is outright celestial, pining for some unreasonable sense of longing and desire, the main melody simple yet still mesmerizing. Romantic shades of palpable emotion, everything clicks here as the perfectly placed wailing sax straight out of the classic Dick Parry mould, creates an enveloping sense of musical torpor that carves deep into the soul with intense beatitude. Insistent and relentless, truly grandiose.

A suddenly unexpected piano leads the delicate 'A Vision Left Unseen', which also has the audacity to provide a vocal duet of interesting proportions, with Carter showing off his low male voice. The 7 minute piece dashes off into the sunset, escorted by slippery guitar leads and a deliberate pulse. There is a definite Gothic gloom that only enhances the mysterious haze, as Tree Stewart peels off a wild synth solo that dazes and dares. This combination of dark and murky with romantic effervescence is quite startling, once you get it under your skin. Bassist Quick has lots of fun bending his bass into a variety of contortions. The ebb and flow keeps things percolating. Lovely is the finale, with its sad melodic outro.

Gushing along in 'Waves', another window opens up into the Emerald Dawn sound craft, one that is surely influenced by the band's geographic location, somewhere in West Cornwall. A progressive 'berceuse', gently lulled by the delicate melodies and the intense instrumental play. Tree's voice soars above the slashing crests and sails forward into the blue- green horizon. Utterly beautiful song, with a superb effect on the mind, as Tree wails like a siren on the sea. Drummer Jackson has a delicate touch that really impresses.

A foreboding thrill sweeps into 'Stranger in a Strange Land', languorous licks and tingling tremors evoke travel and exploration, sprinkled with a touch of anxiety. Yummy! The mood blooms into a grating guitar riff that highlights the trepidation, then tumbles deeply into some more experimental throes, a flute fluttering in the wind, only heightening the panic. The main melody kicks in with a cello-synth foundation on which Ally rips his guitar to shreds with a sizzling effect of passionate adventure. Wow!

As with their debut , Emerald Dawn has carved quite a niche within the prog world, a tight and evocative group of musicians who have a knack for stunning melodies within a clearly psychedelic/melancholic setting. Taking influences from stalwarts like Floyd but never cloning their sound in any way, they also possess a rare charm that is very hard to describe, a sense of originality that highlights their love for music and all done their way.

5 panoramas

Report this review (#1769590)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
2 stars The Emerald Dawn was originally formed in Edinburgh, Scotland by Tree Stewart (keyboards, piano, flute, acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocals) and Ally Carter (electric and acoustic guitars, guitar synthesizer, tenor and soprano saxophones, keyboards, and vocals), before moving to South West England, where they were joined by jazz drummer Tom Jackson and then by bassist Jayjay Quick (fretless and fretted bass guitars, electric upright bass, electric violin, and cello). The Emerald Dawn's first album, entitled 'Searching for the Lost Key', was released in 2014 and they are now returning with the follow-up, 'Visions'.

As is often the case, I was contacted directly by the band to see if I would be able to review the album, to which I of course agreed as I am always looking for "new" (at least to me) bands to be able to write about. I was intrigued before I even started listening to it, as there are only four songs, and the first of these is twenty minutes long! For most of the time their style of prog is reflective, and long instrumental passages are interspersed with some good vocals, and wonderfully warm fretless bass, and sometimes it makes me think of an incredibly laid-back Legend. However, my impression is that this was self-recorded, and I do think that an outside influence would have allowed the band to have made some better composition and arrangement decision.

For example, that Ally is a powerful and striking electric guitarist is never in doubt, yet this isn't used nearly enough, although it is always dynamic and refreshing when it makes an appearance. Another example is that there are some keyboard sounds being used as a fanfare within the opening "Musique Noire" and in my opinion they just don't work, and repeating them doesn't make it any better. What this meant was just a few minutes into the album and I was already distracted, feeling that this wasn't going to be the sort of album I expected it to be. There is also a level of simplicity in some passages that detracts from the overall effect, while the use of saxophone isn't always what I expected it to be.

That the guys can play is never in doubt, and I understand that this is always going to be down to personal taste. A friend of mine, whose reviews I always enjoy reading, has just given this the maximum 5 *'s on ProgArchives, so we are obviously hearing this album very differently indeed, but this isn't something to which I will soon be returning. Why not go over to Bandcamp and give them a listen yourself, and see if you agree or not

Report this review (#1775601)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Damn awesome music!!!! This is the first impression I had listening to the second and new album by the Cornish people of THE EMERALD DAWN. A short disc, just forty-five minutes but what a disc once again, one would be tempted to say! Originally from Edinburgh, still Scottish? Originally but now based in the South West of England, the founding duo Tree STEWART (real name Katrina Jane) and Alan (Ally) CARTER send us a hell of a highly progressive and not really neo in the case now, in my opinion, the inspiration would be more of a psyche/space/prog obedience, a much less common and popular sub-genre and therefore more easily identifiable.​

The start of "Black Music" is purely symphonic in the great tradition of Arthurian legends even if this title is not one, with the round bass (fretless) of Jayjay QUICK and especially the brilliance of the tenor saxophone of Ally CARTER which gives THE EMERALD DAWN the opportunity to distinguish itself from the rest of our usual progressive music, so it's off for a superb twenty-minute journey, out of fashion, out of time or a time suspended above the table round; I will add that I am not a fan of brass but for THE EMERALD DAWN, I make an exception because their music is frankly original. A strong sharp for the vocals which is simply excellent, hushed, delicate, although the album is not overly sung; these first twenty minutes are therefore to be listened to and re-listened to without moderation, it is music filled with magic and lyrical brilliance, we almost come to regret that this piece only tickles our brains during this lapse of time!!!​

The other three pieces (seven, eight and nine minutes) are in the same melodic vein, a little more muscular and sung in two voices for "A Vision Left Unseen" (a slightly gothic male voice) always with a devastating saxophone which takes the track down original musical paths and where Tree STEWART's keyboard talent explodes with every note, the second half of this piece is purely sumptuous even if it ends a little too abruptly... the prog fan is never satisfied !!!​

The remarkable twelve-string acoustic guitar scores of "Waves" can only comfort us in our analysis of this timeless music (I know that this word is often used including by yours truly) but difficult to do otherwise here, Tree STEWART adding to it purely evanescent vocals, a vocal emanation reminiscent of the HASLAM queen of the first RENAISSANCE, airy lines that escape vaporously into the air of the times, it's quite simply B.E.A.U!​

The concluding piece "Stranger in a Strange Land" is the only instrumental on THE EMERALD DAWN disc with a beautiful passage where Tree STEWART's flute appears (around the fifth minute) before Ally CARTER's six strings intensely ignite the end of the piece is heavy, energetic melodic, highly qualitative, very good in short.​

THE EMERALD DAWN, a great discovery that was suggested to me by Ally CARTER himself, after he had read the COMEDY OF ERRORS review!!!​

2017: SCOTLAND new cradle of progressive as far as I'm concerned...

Report this review (#2930137)
Posted Saturday, June 3, 2023 | Review Permalink

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