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THE EMERALD DAWN

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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The Emerald Dawn picture
The Emerald Dawn biography
Founded in Edinburgh, UK in 2010

THE EMERALD DAWN was originally formed in 2010, in the Scottish capital Edinburgh by Katrina "Tree" STEWART (keyboards, piano, flute, acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocals) and Alan "Ally" CARTER (electric and acoustic guitars, guitar synthesizer, tenor and soprano saxophones, keyboards, and vocals), before moving to St Ives, Cornwall in South West England, where they were joined by jazz drummer Thomas JACKSON. The band describes themselves as a multi-instrumentalist, symphonic progressive rock group, who combine elements from classical music, jazz and rock to produce their own original sound. The name is meant to suggest an environmentalist revolution.

The Emerald Dawn its first album entitled "Searching For The Lost Key" was released on October 8th, 2014 and has been widely played on progressive rock radio stations around the world.

For their second album entitled "Visions" (released on August 21st, 2017) the band added bass player JAYJAY QUICK (fretless and fretted bass guitars, electric upright bass, electric violin and cello). The album was pressed in a number of CD copies, while the beautiful artwork was made by Tree Stewart herself. Engaging and very epic music with a certain appeal to fans of PINK FLOYD and STEVE HACKETT, keeping up high the flag of modern bands influenced by Classic British Prog Rock.

On February 1st, 2019 The Emerald Dawn released its third album entitled "Nocturne", with the new bass player David GREENAWAY (who replaced Jayjay in the spring of 2018). The Emerald Dawn sounds as interesting (mainly instrumental) music, with lots of strong musical ideas and exciting moments.

Bio by TenYearsAfter (June 2019)

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THE EMERALD DAWN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.54 | 43 ratings
Searching For The Lost Key
2014
3.69 | 44 ratings
Visions
2017
3.58 | 57 ratings
Nocturne
2019
3.99 | 93 ratings
To Touch the Sky
2021
4.17 | 25 ratings
In Time
2023

THE EMERALD DAWN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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THE EMERALD DAWN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by tbstars1

3 stars I venture in here with some trepidation, given the esteem in which I hold some previous reviewers of this album. And I am always wanting to be supportive of prog bands, wherever possible. But I have to be true to my own sense impressions; and these tell me that this is nowhere near the five-star classic that others are trumpeting: in my view, it merits three stars at best. Indeed, taken in the context of the band's overall output to date, I might be inclined, on another day, to deduct yet a further star, for the simple reason that all their tracks from and including Searching for the Lost Key tend to be cut from more or less the same cloth. It may be, of course, that the band doesn't want to develop its sound, in which case, that's just fine. But an endless succession of songs wherein the band, to quote from Out of Time, "take a moment in time and make it last for ever", is just too much for these ears.

The technical skill and musicality of the band members are undoubted, but what I sorely miss is any lightness of touch, subtlety and variety - something along the lines of, say, Monarch Trail's quite excellent Witherdown. I feel it's all a bit plodding and grandiose - a dated mixture of Warm Dust, Syracuse the Elephant (Stackridge) and T2 (in their post-Boomland incarnation). In particular, more frequent changes of gear would be exceedingly welcome. (Additionally, in passing, Tree Stewart should perhaps be advised to steer clear of low notes - she sounds much more comfortable in the higher range.)

Looking at my collection, I note that it currently includes just a limited number of The Emerald Dawn's songs - Beyond the Wall (from the first album); Stranger in a Strange Land (from Visions); and The Ascent (from To Touch the Sky), the last-named of which is, for the most part, a simply magnificent example of symphonic prog, but which is let down by an extended dead zone towards the end as the band again over-eggs and over-prolongs its dramatic pudding. I find that these three tracks continue to be suitably and sufficiently representative of the band's music to date, and my collection will not be augmented by any of the tracks on the current album.

Malvern is a small and elegant Victorian spa town in Worcestershire, England. It is very popular with travellers and trippers from around the world. Of its permanent residents it is famously remarked that most of them move there to die...but then neglect to do so. Listening to The Emerald Dawn is a bit like that. You start off with good intentions, but, after a while, you quite forget what the original intention was. Maybe, metaphorically speaking, the band would be advised to escape the glowering shadow of the Malvern Hills and move on to new and more colourful pastures - Eastnor Castle, for example, is only about four miles further down the road, and there should be plenty of room for fresh stimulation and imagination there.

 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Cornwall's most consistent band releases their fifth studio album in ten years.

1. "Out of Time" (23:13) (40.25/45) : - i. A Moment in Time - arpeggiating piano chord progression and synth strings open this and are soon joined by Aly Carter's searing electric guitar and gentle drum and bass play before Tree Stewart's weirdly distant voice sings. Tree hits some lovely high notes in the second half of the third minute. (8.875/10) - ii. Temporal Disruption - hard rockin' motif takes over over which Aly and Tree continue to perform in styles and with sounds as before. At 4:25 Dave Greenaway's bass takes center stage as organ and drums steadily support. Electric piano solos in a bluesy-jazz way in the sixth minute. The motif is tied up nicely in the first half of the seventh minute before the music returns to a gentler, more familiar The Emerald Dawn motif for Aly to return to his searing electric guitar sound & play. Tree's electric piano play is a little annoying for remaining in a higher octave for her recurrent and repetitive arpeggi. (8.875/10) - iii. Ouroboros Affronted - At the nine minute mark, gentle, spacious synth washes and note play provide transition and support to nice tribal percussion pattern. Tree sings as if from a distance something quite ethereal and hypnotic over the next 90 seconds before a horrible sax sound enters to echo Tree's vocal melody. The tenor sax then moves into a solo over the same tribal dream music as drummer Tom Jackson begins to take a few liberties with some tasteful accents and flourishes. In the fourteenth minute Tree's synth sound tries to duplicate and duel with Aly's sax before taking over with a solo that uses an Egyptian-sounding melody style. Interesting. At 15:45 Aly tries to take over the Egyptian melody with his electric guitar before ramping it up with the rest of the band into the more high-powered next section. (9/10) - iv. Temporal Reconciliation - a return to a faster, more energetic rock 'n' roll motif over/within which both Aly (guitar) and Tree (synth) solo together--seeming to try to stay together in a mutually supportive melodic progression (which is tighter than I'm capable of describing though both quite individualistic). (4.5/5) - v. A Moment in Time Recalled - slowing down to arpeggiated piano chords over which Tree sings about making time last forever. At 20:10 the pace quickens though the instruments remain constant. Aly's signatory guitar makes a brief appearance between Tree's vocals--which pleasantly hit those high notes again in the 22nd minute. (I just wish there wasn't such a weird effect on her voice--as if it's being recorded in the basement of a large beer storage cellar.) This section of the suite is definitely like a song within a song--and could stand alone quite easily. (9/10)

2. "Timeless" (including "The Eternal River" & "Janus Divided") (14:42) Great groove to start. By now, this, their fifth album, I've actually gotten used to the effect they stubbornly insist on using on Aly's saxophone. The motif with the six-note guitar riff "solo" in the fourth and fifth minute is so boring: just a very standard chord progression that the whole band performs in tandem while Aly plays that riff in key. Then the long drawn-out poorly cinematic passage over which Tree sings (in her weirdly-effected/engineered voice) feels like something from a cheap old video game soundtrack. At 8:35 they kick into an actually cool jazz motif with flute in the lead over the jazzy bass and drums and thick Mellotron-like wave chords. Nice drumming from Tom Jackson. At 10:15 there is another shift, this time into a nice solid groove from the rhythm section over which Aly injects his Andrew Latimer/Mike Oldfield-imitative guitar (with its odd sound). At least the bass and drums are interesting and enjoyable. At the 12-minute mark there is another shift, this time into a very CAN-like rhythm pattern over which synths and oddly-effected soprano saxophone play. After a minute and a half of this the rhythm section doubles their time while remaining glued to their two chord commitment as sax continues to solo. All stops at the 14-minute mark to allow a long, slow sound decay. (25/30)

3. "The March of Time" (including "The Time Weaver") (8:17) Military drums establish the rhythmic foundation over which effected fretless bass plays wildly and synths add their stringy lines. At 2:30 things shift into a cooler, more complex prog rhythm pattern (again: nice drumming) over which the bass and keys continue to play some mildly interesting CAMEL-esque lines and riffs. The bass really makes a mark starting at the end of the fourth minute--and the drums remain tight and interesting. The soloing instrument over the top finally makes an impact in the fifth and sixth minutes with some odd portamento slides. At the end of the sixth minute the music reverts to what sounds and feels like an old/standard go-to form over which both Aly's searing guitar and Tree's repeating vocalizations play out to the song's finish.(17.25/20)

Total Time 46:12

Another band that has remained quite consistent from its start (over ten years ago)--almost stubbornly so. The sounds they've latched onto from the engineering booth have never sat well with me--and this album may, in fact, present the most grating sound rendering of their five-album career--some part due to the remarkably simple and repetitive constructs they use in forming their songs. While I thought I was hearing improvements with 2021's To Touch the Sky, all ground gained seems now lost in a landslide of disappointing regression. I swear, at times I keep thinking that I could make better of this music than they've allowed to be publicly marketed. If it weren't for the first suite (which makes up half of the album) this might be considered a total flop by me. The band knows of my complaints with regards to their sound choices--and have remained steadfast in defense of them. Though I like and appreciate their overall sound and style, the little things that I've noted continue to go against my own preferences. Thus, my less-than effusive review.

B-/3.5 stars; a good but ultimately disappointing album that I've rated down for being the band's fifth album of the sameness.

 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by Justanoldgit

4 stars Just going to add to this and correct the change of rating back to its first value. I do not know how or why this occurred. The Emerald Dawn are a fine outfit who play interesting ORIGINAL music, and In Time is a great addition to ANY collection. The music is moody and sometimes sombre but always rewarding. My remark to anyone in doubt is simply "Try it, you might like it!". These musicians care deeply about their music and it shows. I've been listening to music, both good and bad for fifty years and I know quality when I hear it. This is just such a thing. As time passed over the last few years I have noticed how hard it can be for such outfits to make their mark. The Emerald Dawn are one such outfit.
 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

5 stars *Originally written for theprogmind.com*

9/10

The Emerald Dawn is back with another offering. Their previous record, To Touch the Sky, was in my top 10 albums for 2021, and I think it would remain there even now. There is just something arresting about this band and their style. The new album is called In Time, and it releases on September 23rd.

This band fascinates me to no end. There is something spectacularly reserved and united about the style, and even though it may seem odd compared to some of the more cliché prog rock bands out there, I think they are better. The lineup for this album includes Tree Stewart on keyboards, Roli Seaboard, flute, and vocals; Ally Carter on guitars, tenor and soprano saxophones, and keyboards; Dave Greenaway on 6-string fretless and fretted basses, and Tom Jackson on drums.

Let me tell you why I love this band. I've been reviewing their works since 2017, and I continue to see them progress and grow. All four of these musicians are of the highest quality; they perform wonderfully and masterfully. But their sound is their own, and no one else really approaches what they do. As I've said in the past, they come from a progressive heritage that leans more towards Mike Oldfield, Renaissance, and the Moody Blues than the typical "big three" of Yes, Pink Floyd, and Genesis. I'm not saying they don't like those bands or anything, but I'm saying their music is more ambient, more spectral, and more interesting.

For In Time, the band has increased the level of intensity somewhat. To Touch the Sky is a haunting, faraway sort of record that echoes from the horizon of your mind. In Time is more grounded, and while their signature shadowy and dreamy sound is still there, you will hear instrumentals that have some fire to them. This album is a great balancing act between ambience and rock, and I think they handle it very well.

I mentioned the performances earlier, but I want to discuss them again. I absolutely love Ally's guitar work on this record; it is expressive with a sense of familiarity in its phrasing. He does a superb job here. Tree's vocals are better than ever, and I like how she adds little touches here and there to give the music even more character, and both Tree and Ally lay down an excellent layer of keys that define the band's sound, in my opinion. However, I will also say that Dave and Tom give us one of the best rhythm sections of the year on this album. I was mesmerized by the powerful and groovy bass that Dave injects into every nook and cranny, and the voluptuous fills and remarkable moments that Tom gives us on drums are real highlights.

In Time has spirit. I love how the band can transition from hopeful lyrical passages to serious rock vibes to playful and colorful instrumentals. These songs wind and weave with precision, even though the band makes it feel natural and peaceful. The opener, "Out of Time", is a great example. Tree sounds great on vocals with her message of encouragement and edification, but it's also the sparkling piano, amazing bass, and terrific guitar lines that make this 23-minute epic work. The second half features Middle Eastern flavors and haunting atmosphere, and the percussion becomes a highlight, and I love how the whole song comes full circle with more fervor near the end.

I think the second track, "Timeless", might be my favorite, though. This 15-minute piece is dark and bass-driven, and again Dave's bass just absolutely stuns. I love the ethereal keys and spacious atmosphere of this song, and one of the highlights is Ally's outstanding saxophone. I like the way he plays, not resorting to specific jazz refrains, but going wild and untamed with it. "Timeless" is just so good. I can't get enough of it.

The final track, "The March of Time", is the shortest piece at only about 8 minutes. You might guess that percussion plays a larger role here, and a marching beat is indeed a major part of it. However, maybe even bigger than the methodical drumming and deft cymbal dancing is the dark beauty of the keys; the keyboards on this mostly instrumental piece are simply amazing in how mysterious and even foreboding they sound, but even at their most razor-sharp, I find them immensely beautiful. I also appreciate the way Tree's vocals filter in near the end to add another layer of melody. That's just so good.

I might have to start calling The Emerald Dawn "one of my favorite bands" soon. I like all their albums, but To Touch the Sky and now In Time are just so damn good that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. I love their sound and how they morph and twist it into new ideas, and I equally love when they just hang back with a casual, soothing portion that speaks volumes. In Time is a fantastic record from a band that deserves so much more recognition than they get.

 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The Emerald Dawn are back with their fifth album, on the heels of 2021's crowning achievement, the highly acclaimed "To Touch the Sky". The bar is set very high as that was quite a release, especially in view of the fact that it was a Covid baby, created under difficult circumstances especially for band fond of touring. Staying true to their unshakable style and the commitment shown by all members of the band, their recently released "In Time" album should consecrate the group among the progressive rock elite, though these musicians are the most down to earth anywhere. While they perhaps do listen to the Ramones in their spare time, the 3 gargantuan tracks here are extended non-radio friendly epics that showcase their ongoing staying power, even within one single piece of music. Ever since I got my hands on their debut "Searching for the Lost Key" back in 2014, I have admired their steadfast devotion to progress WITHIN the parameters they had set out from the onset, unwavering in sticking to their guns. We at Prog Rogue love rebels!

There is immediate comfort with the sound remaining deliberately haunting, as this is what distinguishes the band from all the other prog groups out there, making them instantly recognizable, a tree among the forests if you will. Speaking of which, Tree Stewart still uses her echo-laden voice to vaporous effect, while her keyboard skills just keep on impressing, being a sound sculptor instead of a flamboyant virtuoso wizard. Ally Carter wields dual weapons of distinction, a moaning, wailing, squeaking guitar tone on one hand and a saxophone that can blare with the best horn blowers on the other, using both judiciously when needed. Being a bass fetishist, the fretless meanderings are always on my radar, searching out each blip with brazen enthusiasm. Finally, an active drum kit is seriously needed to propel the arrangements forward, lest they all bog down into a sea of churning sonic mud.

Opening track is a 23 minute + behemoth that sets the tone right from the opening notes, "Out of Time" is an adventurous splurge of sound and fury, with an ornate piano departure, followed by Ally (Cat) Carter's meowing leads sensing his whiskers into defining the environment, like a famished panther looking for a much-needed lunch. Tree can scale the notes with ease and conviction, I am somehow reminded of Illusion's majestic album 'Out of the Mist" and Jane Relf's singing in the pastoral style. As befits a very progressive band, David Greenaway's bass takes the momentary spotlight with an athletic cruise, carving delicious slabs of low-end melody, drummer Tom Jackson keeping the pace eloquently, just setting up another guitar and keyboard flurry. Halfway through the piece, things eventually slow down to a whisper, giving off a classic Gong sheen, as proposed by the wailing voice, exotic drum fills, synths in the background and Ally doing a Didier Malherbe-like workout on sax. It's an experimental, slightly Middle Eastern, slow-burn slice of genius. All that would be missing is a belly dancer and a clarinet to make the cobra appear from its woven basket and fall under the spell of the hypnotic swoon. Imperceptibly, the return to the main theme occurs without a hitch, spearheaded by an insistent and repetitive melody that sears into the nodes, reaching a plateau of grandiose bliss. The serenity of the opening wistful anthem is restored, the 'whooshingly' beautiful voice, the purring guitar seemingly content and a silky final few ticks of the clock. Utterly exquisite piece, easily their finest opus yet.

How the heck can you follow that one? Well, perhaps something "Timeless" and just as epic, packing in another nearly 15 minutes of filigree delight, a soft groove, and a chatty sax! The smoky atmospherics are their claim to fame, unflinchingly utilizing purposefully echo-laden production so as to create tons of captivating atmosphere, almost spooky at times, which pretty much defines most of British prog. Images of foggy marshes, dark forests, both surely enchanted and magical, quaint pastures turning to darker green amid the endless rain swaths, that is what you imagine while listening to these modern-day minstrels. The haunting keyboard work is guided judiciously by the rhythm section, as the brassy sax goes for another round, directing the listener to have a pint or three after this one at the local pub.

Leading the procession to the nearest watering hole, "The March of Time" galvanizes the thirst for more adventurous interplay, as the marshalling drums keep the line, a slick contrast between the rigid and the flowing develops musically. The meandering bass is very much set in its ways, quite flamboyant amid all the rhythmic jazz overtones, playfully scouring the heavens for inspiration and the final part is another psychedelic frolic, with a carping guitar lead that begs, cries, pleads and implores for some kind of deliverance, as Tree's unflinching voice waves a mournful goodbye. Kind off speechless, which is okay because I am typing after all.

That was the main menu, three whopping tracks that define this band better than ever before, and will comprise the album . I also received, as a secondary chapter, 2 snippets of varying length, "A Moment of Time" both based on the same ultra beautiful opening melody, reworked for those fussy fans out there, for whom a written page is a book, and an epic piece of prog, a huge burden on their attention span. One is "Extended", adding quite humorously I am sure, an extra minute to the 3 minute and 30 seconds running time. Tongue firmly in cheek. The five album covers are actually all one larger fresco of sorts, proving that these rebellious artists had a master plan all along and persevered, in time.

5 Everlasting Rolexes

 In Time by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 25 ratings

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In Time
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by KansasForEver

5 stars Only three titles are the format chosen in recent years by Ally CARTER and her traveling companions from THE EMERALD DAWN to transport us into their dreamlike and adventurous world, one relatively short, one which borders on a quarter of an hour and a Big Mac which exceeds twenty-three minutes in this case. Let's take a closer look (listen) to this fifth album.

Let's start at the beginning with the peplum "Out of Time" (10/10) and the instantly recognizable guitar of Ally CARTER, a few seconds are enough... just like the magic keyboards of Tree STEWART, the two make a pair... all accompanied by the lady's angelic vocals, of course David GREENAWAY and Tom JACKSON also have their share of responsibility in the architecture and arrangement of the music of THE EMERALD DAWN (listen to the jazz section between 4:25 and 5: 50, surprising for a regular at TED as I am with the dancing piano!). The more classy THE EMERALD DAWN then takes over again, not too much, with the six strings which strolls happily on the keyboard carpets of Tree... when the first scents of Ally's soprano saxophone appear which direct the beach towards the orientalizing shores of their music, the dance of the OUROBOROS cobra (read the detailed explanations in the shared interview to better understand), immense happiness of a dreamy elsewhere, of another journey magnified by the graceful vocal flights of Madame STEWART, all to enjoy without moderation, for all those who want original progressive music...

"Timeless" (9/10) second epic, shorter, more basic too, presents us with endless time and its subjective experience according to each person's feelings, introduction to saxophone then more classical guitar before the appearance of keyboards (around of 4:30) which carry and support the piece beyond the eight minutes and until its end accompanied by a swift six-string soloist from 11:00 and a return of the saxophone for the final part on a joyful and catchy rhythm.

The concluding and shortest section of the work "The March of Time", as the musicians explain elsewhere, shows that time is in our heads constantly, no matter how relentless it is for each of us. us (also invisible), advancing age exists for everyone and the end comes one day for each individual, it is the reality, sometimes sad, sometimes more joyful (9/10). Musically we are in the presence of an almost instrumental piece, only the last two minutes include vocals, a return to the first bars of the album with the same guitar motif from Ally CARTER, the loop is complete, our journey through time is for this time finished, in the most beautiful way.

Magnificent album you will have understood, on my box 2023.

 Visions by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.69 | 44 ratings

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Visions
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by KansasForEver

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...

 To Touch the Sky by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.99 | 93 ratings

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To Touch the Sky
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by KansasForEver

5 stars Number four, like in "The Prisoner" in the sixties/seventies! but here Patrick MacGOOHAN is replaced by Ally CARTER and his playmates from THE EMERALD DAWN. Two years exactly after their previous opus "Nocturne" which I had already told you about on profilprog.com without a change of personnel for the first time in the career of the British formation.

If I wanted to be short, I would say that those who enjoyed the previous album will like this one, but the musicians of THE EMERALD DAWN (like others) deserve better than that. Of course the comments and annotations of "Nocturne" are valid for this "To Touch the Sky" since the iconography is always due to the brushes and the protean talent of Tree STEWART, the musical construction and the framework of the compositions are done under the leadership of Ally CARTER with the active participation of the three other members of the group.

There are only 3 titles on this opus but three long titles, the shortest "The Awakening" which opens the album displays eleven minutes fifteen! Little sung in two voices, male then female, dark for Ally, evanescent for Tree, a calm piece in its first half and more nervous in its second, guitar and keyboards answering and supporting each other throughout (9/10).

The second track "And I Stood Transfixed" and its quarter of an hour is hardly sung, only the title of the piece is pronounced several times by Tree STEWART and led by the saxophone of Ally CARTER and the multiple and inventive keyboards of Madame STEWART who also uses a flute (around the sixth minute), as in the first title the beginning is rather serene, the sequel a bit crazy (Ally's greasy saxophone recognizable to regulars) all this before finding a calm portion ( 9/10).

We are left with "The Ascent" with its twenty-two minutes and its fourteen sub-parts, truly inseparable, layers of synthesizers in the preamble, untied piano and flute which follow, the six strings appear in the second minute and the diaphanous voice of Tree STEWART in the fourth (this is the story of life in the village market and the reflections of the inhabitants on the future, we are reluctantly in tune with the times), the use of keyboards is quite simply Majestic with a capital M; the saxophone intervenes mid-piece supported by the drum rolls of Tom JACKSON and the rumbles of the bass guitar of David GREENAWAY, a pearly work until the end of the piece as one would say at the couturiers, here at the expense of the British quartet, great musical art for those who are willing to make the effort to be familiar with THE EMERALD DAWN (10/10).

A little personal opinion to conclude, this "To Touch the Sky" is the Cornish band's best album to date.

 Nocturne by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.58 | 57 ratings

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Nocturne
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars The Emerald Dawn take progressive rock back to the sound of IQ and Marillion on this album, meaning it's quite synth-heavy. It keeps the tempo down for the most part, moving smoothly along, and the drums often impart a jazzy feel. I'm not the biggest fan of the sound palette on this album, and I wish they would have mixed it up a bit more. And like many, many progressive rock albums, the songs (all 8-20 minutes) have a tendency to become unfocused or drag at moments. But if you're a big fan of IQ or other neo-prog acts, give this a go!

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2019/02/18/odds-and-ends-february-18-2019/

 To Touch the Sky by EMERALD DAWN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.99 | 93 ratings

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To Touch the Sky
The Emerald Dawn Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The atmospheric prog folk band from St. Ives is back with it's fourth major release--an album that shows some major steps forward in both its compositional complexity and its sound production.

1. "The Awakening" (11:15) not as syrupy as past compositions, there is complexity and development here that the band has never been willing (or felt the need) to do before. There are moments I feel classical music parallels and jazzy stylistic adventures. Awesome! (17.25/20)

2. "And I Stood Transfixed" (15:07) I love the PINK FLOYD "Welcome to the Machine" feel of the opening of this one as well as the hand percussion used in place of the drums. At 2:12 it shifts in both tempo and instruments as drum kit joins in with bass, fast strummed guitar, and Dick Parry-like tenor saxophone. Then, at 3:40, everything stops while spacey synths oscillate and soft rhythm track establishes itself for Tree to sing over with her heavily-reverbed TRACY THORN-like voice. Beautiful section. Tree's flute takes over in the gorgeous seventh and eight minutes before a kind of earthquake of sound leads into an aggressive, monster-movie-like section. Ally's tenor sax goes wild over the drums. A brief section with Tree's most angelic vocalise is followed by a long passage over which Alan's guitar shreds perhaps as quickly, effectively, and emotionally as ever. My favorite Emerald Dawn song ever! (27.5/30)

3. "The Ascent" (22:17) opens with organ-synth sounds (strings and flutes) and Mellotron voices before giving way to light classical piano play of a kind of Russian theme (think John Tout/RENAISSANCE) with background synth strings and delicate cymbal improvisation. The whole song sounds as if it were recorded inside a huge cathedral space. In the third minute, Ally Carter's distinctive electric guitar begins another searing solo but then, uncharacteristically, cuts it short at 3:00 in order to make room for a new two chord section over which Tree sings in a kind of SALLY OLDFIELD/TRACEY THORN voice. At 5:37 there is another shift--this one taking the listener down an entirely new and refreshing path--with low strings and plucked strings arpeggi flowing over the more dynamic bass and drum play. Despite the open, orchestra-like sound recording of the drums, they are rather impressive here. At 8:30, there is another shift into a more ethereal fog of synth washes with some subtle bass and drum incidentals until a very slow pace is established--over which Ally begins soloing as if from one of the side chapels of a large cathedral. At the end of the eleventh minute, the music shifts back to a variation of the 5:37 movement. Here Ally's synthesized guitar solos sounding very much like a saxophone. The keyboard soundscapes here sound a lot like the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT in the I Robot era. At 13:55 things break down into a more simplified, spacious variation of the 3:00 motif with Tree singing again. Piano solos and synth solos exchange take turns over the paunchy bass lines and interesting drum play. There is a very COLLAGE Moonshine-like quality and feel to the sound here. The music palette stays pretty much the same for a while though there are several subtle shifts in pace and motif. At the end of the nineteenth minute, some nice orchestral-sounds (low "brass") help bring a gravity to the music indicative of the song's coming to an end--trying to make it's last impression. Tree sings the final verse and then Ally lets loose with an emotion-packed guitar solo while organ chords, bass, and vacuous drums carry the tune below up to it's protracted "orchestral" finish. Very nicely done! Another song that I can honestly say raises the band in my esteem. Finally, I can feel the way Emerald Dawn's music is informed by classical music as they have claimed. (39.5/45)

Total Time 48:39

A band that has had a very pleasing, attractive sound from its inception, but whose quality in sound production and complexity of musical arrangements has always seemed lacking. With this album, the band seems to have taken a turn toward more serious sound engineering and more seriously thought out compositions. In the past, I've complained about the simplicity of Emerald Dawn compositions as well as about the out-dated computer- generated sounds used to make their rich space music. On To Touch the Sky, the band have finally stepped up in both compositional complexity and the use of machines that can produce higher quality sounds (or they may have just found a better producer and better engineers). The changes are a definite step forward.

B/four stars; a solid contribution to Prog World and an Emerald Dawn album that I can finally recommend to prog lovers everywhere.

Thanks to apps79 for the artist addition. and to Quinino (w/ TenYearsAfter). NotAProghead for the last updates

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