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Mellow Candle

Prog Folk

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Mellow Candle Swaddling Songs album cover
3.87 | 82 ratings | 16 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heaven Heath (3:00)
2. Sheep Season (5:01)
3. Silver Song (4:26)
4. The Poet And The Witch (2:51)
5. Messenger Birds (3:39)
6. Dan The Wing (2:45)
7. Reverend Sisters (4:21)
8. Break Your Token (2:27)
9. Buy Or Beware (3:05)
10. Vile Excesses (3:14)
11. Lonely Man (4:28)
12. Boulders On My Grave (3:40)

Total time 42:57

Bonus tracks on 2004 remaster:
13. Feeling High (2:23)
14. Tea With The Sun (3:18)

Line-up / Musicians

- Alison Williams / lead vocals
- David Williams / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Clodagh Simonds / piano, vocals
- Frank Boylan / bass
- William Murray / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: David Anstey

LP Deram - SDL 7 (1972, UK)

CD See for Miles - SEECD 404 (1994, UK)
CD ACME ‎- ADCD1040 (2004, UK) 24-bit remaster with 2 bonus tracks from 1968 single
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC2044 (2008, Europe) Remastered by Paschal Byrne

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MELLOW CANDLE Swaddling Songs ratings distribution

(82 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MELLOW CANDLE Swaddling Songs reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars A nice folk-rock album that fits that mould perfectly but does not bring anything new to the style and certainly no more to originality. The songs are fairly short and standard with good musicianship and sometimes gorgeous harmonies and melodies. The female singer has a typical voice in the mould of Maddy Prior of Steeleye, Sandy Denny of Fairport, Jacqui McShee of Pentangle and Celia Humphrys of the Trees, but the music here certainly is not up to par with the last two groups mentioned in that list. Don't get me wrong , this is a fine enjoyable album , but nothing special and there are many other folk-rock bands to investigate before hunting down this one, but it will be a good addition to your collection if you are into that style of music ( and I am )
Review by NJprogfan
4 stars One shot album that should not be missed by any fan into folk/prog. Excellent muscianship, although at first you might be taken by the women singing which are angelic on tracks like, "Heaven Health" and "Sheep Season", (my favorite song) and then rock on tracks like, "The Poet and The Witch" and "Dan The Wing". The first few tracks have a very modern folk sound which wouldn't sound out of place on a Sarah McLachlan album, superb! The only track that keeps this from a five-star rating is "Lonely Man" a bluesy rocker that sounds dated and sticks out like a sore thumb. The one thing that I love about this album is that you can concentrate on the singing all the way through, then play it again and just listen to the instruments. It just doesn't get boring, (like some folk albums). This compares to the best of Steeleye Span, Lindisfarne, and Fairport Convention. A must buy four-star folk/prog gem.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As this band originates from Ireland, it is not a surprise that there are exceptionally fine melodies on their songs, along with some Christian themes. The gentle amplified bass and electric guitars with drums keep the band within rock frame of reference, but this isn't very psychedelic music in my opinion, as the songs are coherently logical and do not contain very surreal feelings in them. In the song "Heaven Heath" some harpsichord runs bring a slight baroque feeling to their music, but this is not very purist medieval folk music either.

The song "Sheep Season" reminded me the sounds on the "On The Shore" album by The Trees. There are also some slightly symphonic passages at the end of the song, where guitar, piano and flute do solos over the nicely pulsing rhythm section, and they let it to grow in wonderful heights. Sadly the climax remains unheard, as there is a fadeout here, a solution which I got quite serious issues at one time. "Silver Song" is then a more bluesy tune, having truly unbelievable beautiful guitar and singing melodies. Stunning harmonies for two female singers are introduced here, and they are maybe the most notable feature of this record. These double vocals are also powerfully present on "Break Your Token", and on song "Reverend Sisters" which is a pretty piano driven piece. "Vile Excesses" has a nice dialogue with these voices mingling in the verses, and the fast final song "Boulders on My Grave" has interesting wordless singing on it. There are also few faster slightly rockier tunes here, like "Buy or Beware" and the strong "The Poet and The Witch", which emerges from a short soundscape of a sea.

I think that the songs on the beginning of the album are a bit better compositions, though the rest are no bad either. Sadly my version didn't have the two bonus tracks, as they would have been interesting to hear. If you want to hear more Irish proggy folk, check out Mushroom's "Early One Morning", being a fine album done in bit more rockier acid folk style.

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars We wait in the Cathedral

Swaddling Songs is very, prog-churchy if you will. Many of the songs seem as if they could be turned into Christian hymns quite easily (though their already is obvious religious references. The female vocalist here is quite good, with a very angelic voice and fits well with the low key nature of the music.

As others have stated, it's not exactly revolutionary. Much of it is very simple, relaxing music. Melodies have a nice quality to them, but don't particularly stand out. My favorite moment is in Silver Song, where the piano seems as if it is weeping, a very touching moment. However, these moving moments are few and far between, and the album seems far too "nice, and pleasant". I realize this is a good quality to have, and one might wonder why I would dislike such notions. It's not that it's merely pleasant, it's that it is almost too laid back. In spite of this, Mellow Candle would have been interesting to see at a prog show, and much of this seems like it would fit right in with events like the Renaissance Festival.

Review by Matti
4 stars The original LP flopped at the time but has later been prized up to 500 pounds among collectors, informs the leaflet about this folk- rock classic. (The CD appeared as late as in 1994 and I had the opportunity to borrow this from library, as usual.) How unfair can music biz be! A band as talented and music as nice as this is ignored? I believe one even doesn't have to be a FOLK-rock enthusiast to like this, quite the opposite, listening to this today can MAKE one interested in that genre and era.

It may be said that this Irish quintet didn't bring anything clearly new; genre's major acts Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, and several lesser bands such as Trees, had started some years before. Mellow Candle, however, were just slightly more psychedelic, and they composed all songs by themselves (instead of Trad.). I find this album more interesting than what I've heard from the mentioned bands. The playing is sharp and intricate - piano, acoustic and electric guitar, bass and drums - and the harmonic vocals of ladies Alison and Clodagh are absolutely lovely. (Here and there I came to think of the women of ABBA - and this is NO bad thing, whatever opinion you may have on ABBA's music.) Musically the tracks can be roughly divided into ethearal beauties and edgier uptempo songs, both handled equally well, though maybe the latter ones offer more-of-the-same towards the end of the album. The wonderful opener 'Heaven Heath' is a mellow and rich song in between, with a medieval-like feel. 'Reverend Sisters' is a fantastic number of the female duet and piano.

Singer-pianist Clodagh Simonds, the writer of the majority of songs, has later worked with Andy Warhol and Robert Fripp, and drummer William Murray has played for Mike oldfield and Richard & Linda Thompson, but otherwise they disappeared without a trace. For Prog Folk lovers this is a MUST. Not quite 5 stars but pretty close...

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars I’ve heard several of these tracks in early form thanks to the 1996 rarities & demos release ‘The Virgin Prophet’, and I have to say these finished versions benefited greatly from some studio polishing and production.

Mellow Candle are near-legendary in prog folk circles, and deservedly so. This was their only studio release, but every song here is a folk delight with mild psych overtones and occasionally even a little rocking out. Best of all, the band features a pair of women whose voices seem to have been made to sing folk music - Clodagh Simonds and Alison Williams. Both have rich, expressive voices that carry each tune to heights that a male troubadour would not have been able. The two of them also either wrote or co-wrote all but two songs on the album (“Vile Excesses” and “Buy or Beware”, both of which are credited largely to Ms. Williams’ brother David).

These are short songs in traditional folk form for the most part, all of them lasting less than five minutes with several of less than three minutes. But each seems to portray a complete thought or theme without coming across as rushed or incomplete, something novice folk bands sometimes have a tendency to do.

The instrumentation is pretty simple: bass, guitar, drums and keyboards (mostly piano). The bulk of the music comes from the voices of the two ladies, typically with one singing lead and the other harmonizing, but occasionally in duet. The two of them make for a beautiful medley of sound throughout.

Most of the tracks are unhurried, introspective and somewhat earthy in tone. A few times David Williams ratchets up his guitar a bit with a combination of psych and mellow rock flair such as on “Lonely Man” and “Buy or Beware”, but these times are few and far between. A few tracks like “Dan the Wing” and “Break your Token” have a decidedly Irish lilt to them, but mostly this is just some good folk music without pretension or pompousness.

One track sticks in my mind as something I’m sure I heard as a youngster, the Mamas & Papas- sounding “Buy or Beware”. Ms. Williams and Ms. Simonds sound just like Mama Cass Elliott and Michelle Phillips. I don’t know if this was ever released as a single, but the line “I want no water with my wine” strikes me as something I’ve heard before.

This is a very easy to listen to album, and doesn’t really strike me as dated-sounding although the musical style was in decline even when this was recorded in the early seventies. No matter, prog folk fans hold the album in high esteem for the most part, and now that I’ve had a chance to play it a few times so do I. Four stars for the ladies and their accompanying men. Too bad Mellow Candle weren’t able to make more of a go of things back then, but this album leaves an impressive and lasting legacy. Highly recommended to prog folk fans for sure.


Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Folk prog always manages to get me. Especially when there's bass line clear to hear. I don't know why, but to this beautiful voice and mild instruments, bass guitar simply fits me perfectly. Whole album sounds surprisingly fresh and new. First I though that it's new release (if I wouldn't be aware of it's year of birth). And not only sounding refreshing, but surprisingly proggy. I though that I should rate prog folk albums as good folk ones with flavour of prog, but this one (again, mostly due to bass and piano) sounds like prog. I feel like listening something influenced by (or something that influenced) Renaissance at times. Even it's not as good and her voice is not as good as (but after all, what is). I'm pleased very much.

4(+) for great prog folk album. There are flaws, it's sometimes not strong enough, but that's rare.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Another one shot band that unfortunalty didnīt stay around long enough to fulfill their obvious grand potential. This time is an irish outfiit that came out under the name of Mellow Candle. Their only CD, Swadling Songs, was quite strong and had some very good tracks, with agfood musicanship and nice female voals that reminds me of the pastoral side of Renaissance and other prog folk bands of the time like Fairport Convention. David Williams provided some very nice guitar lines and Alison Williams had an excellent voice. I believe they influenced a whole generation fo irish bands that followed in the next decade, like Clannad.

Most of the tracks are very well crafted and recorded, the band had a very tight rhythm section .Clodagh Simonds beautiful harmony vocals and her very effective keyboard playing are one the bands best features. Their sound is a very good mix orf prog rock and folk and i think they were a bit ahead of their time. I canīt find no other explanation why this record failed to make a bigger impact on the folk-rock scene (maybe fueled by bad manangement and/or internal squabbles, I really donīt know). Anyway, at least they left this little gem here for posterity. All tracks are good and varied, helped by their tasteful arrangement and excellent musicanship.

If youīre into prog folk, or good melodic music in general you should not miss this one. An excelent assition to any prog music collectio. Rating: four strong stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Mellow Candle were a progressive folk rock band from Ireland, combining Celtic folk music with the sort of progressive folk that had been catching on across the border in the UK. Alison Williams' lead vocals are charming, and you can hear how groups this laid the foundation of the Clannad-spearheaded resurgence of Celtic folk in subsequent years, but whilst it is a pleasant and enjoyable listen, I don't think it's a fully-fledged classic; it's a four-star album that gets talked about in five-star terms thanks to its scarcity and the brief lifespan of the band. Still, even leaving behind an album that's this good is an achievement in itself.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another "psych folk" group--this one from Ireland. I hear The Byrds, The Association, The Moody Blues. I like the piano base, reverbed female voices of Alison Williams and Clodagh Simonds--the Mama Cass and Michele Philips of Irish folk music--and the Mellotron flutes. Apparently the three girls were still in school--15 and 16 year olds when they formed the band and barely into their 20s at the time of the making of this album. Wow!

1. "Heaven Heath" (3:00) dual female vocals over harpsichord, bass, and simple time-keeping drums. The two girls are so tight that it almost sounds like one! Great sound, great song. (9/10)

2. "Sheep Season" (5:01) the dual voices of Alison Williams and Clodagh Simonds are one heck of a team--the perfect voice duo. Alison here has the lead but Clodagh is with her every step of the way. Effected guitar plays out a Roger McGuinn-sounding solo in the fourth minute over the piano and is then followed by a Melltron flute solo to the end. (9.5/10)

3. "Silver Song" (4:26) a slow, blues-based song with Alison starting out in the solo lead. Clodagh joins in with amazingly perfect crystalline harmonies but doesn't stay, kind of comes back and forth. Gorgeous! Awesome electric guitar solo in the C part. (10/10)

4. "The Poet And The Witch" (2:51) very interesting for the sudden confrontation with the voice of Clodagh Simonds- -which is much more forceful and powerful than that of the angelic Alison. (8.5/10)

5. "Messenger Birds" (3:39) a more countrified music with solo lead from Alison Williams. (8.5/10)

6. "Dan The Wing" (2:45) another turn for Clodagh up front--and another more rocking song. When Alison joins in harmony it's dangerous cuz she becomes more attractive to listen to (is it my imagination or is the mix even favoring her over Clodagh?) Their dual scatting in the final minute is interesting. (8/10)

7. "Reverend Sisters (4:21) gently, hypnotic piano opens before Alison and Clodagh enter in perfect unison. Wow! Telling a story from school days in a rather dispassionate-yet-haunting fashion. (10/10)

8. "Break Your Token (2:27) a raucus up-beat rock song that opens with Alison on lead vocals. Clodagh joins in for the second verse and that's when it gets super interesting! These girls could sing--and play with and off of each other almost magically well. Did they sell their souls to the devil? They can't be real! 20-year olds don't sing with this kind of maturity, do they?! (8.75/10)

9. "'Buy Or Beware'" (3:05) another upbeat, faster-paced rock song with piano and rhtyhm section pounding away at a brisk pace while the girls do their Mama Cass & Michele Phillips magic. If these songs were rated on vocals alone they'd pretty much all be earning full marks, but the music, though very good, is often less stellar. Clever pseudo- religious tongue-in-cheek lyrics. (9.25/10)

10. "Vile Excesses (3:14) a kind of progressive blues bass and drums opens this one before piano and percussion join in followed thereafter by the girls--at first together, then alternating (by channel). One of the more poorly recorded songs for the vocals but the instruments get a chance to really shine on this one--especially Clodagh's (poorly recorded) upright piano. (8.5/10)

11. "Lonely Man" (4:28) a little C & W twang to go with the rock foundation while Alison and Clodagh once again perform vocal magic. Even when singing in a more controlled, sedate fashion, they are mesmerizing for the interesting way they each render their tracks--and more, how they blend--how the whole comes out. (8.5/10)

12. "Boulders On My Grave" (3:40) a rocker that could compete with The WHO or The HOLLIES! Opens with full rock band supporting Clodagh and Alison's "la-di-da" and "na-na-na" scatting, respectively. Tru-ra-luraloo is mixed in there with some English lyrics as a chorus. What a show!(9/10)

Total time 42:57

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music, bluesy folk with one of the most amazing vocal duos ever put to record.

Latest members reviews

4 stars MELLOW CANDLE were an Irish Prog-Folk quintet whose flickering flame burned briefly but brightly in 1972 with the release of their one and only studio album, "Swaddling Songs", which has since become a treasured classic amongst Prog-Folk connoisseurs. The band were led by two sweet-voiced Irish ... (read more)

Report this review (#2408937) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rare are the prog bands from Ireland. Fruupp, yes and Mellow Candle. Coming from Dublin more precisely, this unknown one shot band belongs to the brilliant obscure bands of the seventies who only produced an album, but a gem. I think of England, Spring (the posthumous compilations forgotten). ... (read more)

Report this review (#266484) | Posted by Thierry | Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If I had to choose just one album to carry me through the rest of my life, I would seriously consider choosing this gem. Absolutely breathtaking from beginning to end. Well, check that, because oddly, I would rank the very first track as the least important, but after that, it is just one mast ... (read more)

Report this review (#182794) | Posted by Jeff Carney | Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the finest and best folk albums from England in the 70's. Have a melancholic feeling, beautiful female dual vocals and loads of superb acoustic guitars. This is one of the folk albums you really need ! ... (read more)

Report this review (#135385) | Posted by JohnnyC | Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Swaddling Songs" is cosmetically a very typical folk-rock album and does not bring any new influences or progressive elements to the genre. On the otherhand, Mellow Candle's playing is very tight and at times can be lush and/or technical. Also, upon listening one realizes the beauty of the tw ... (read more)

Report this review (#42748) | Posted by | Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I had this album for about a year and thought it was ok. When I read something on it and decided to play it again I was blown away. This has got to be one of the greatest debut albums of all time. If you like Progressive music with folk and jazz strains you will love this album. I like this mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#26395) | Posted by | Friday, July 30, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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