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Pearls Before Swine - The Use Of Ashes CD (album) cover


Pearls Before Swine


Prog Folk

4.20 | 39 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars After a rather weak These Things Too album, Tom Rapp comes back with the superb Use Of Ashes, but by the time of recording, he's the only remaing PBS, Wayne Harley having left, leading Tom alone aboard. Rapp dedicated this album to the low countries (Benelux) where he was staying when he wrote these songs, an evidence for his tastes for his Flemish album artworks (here a unicorn hunting tapestry). So with mostly studio musicians to back him up, Tom rose to the occasion and pulled one of the most spine-tingling performances in the prog folk domain, thus reaching the raconteur troubadour status, often dabbling with medieval-type songs.

Right from the opening The Jeweller, Rapp reaches a sort of purity in his songwriting as well as his performance, the opening track being slightly reminiscent of Jacques Brel in the verses, while the chorus has a catchy hook that one amazes this is not a worldwide hit. The following almost-instrumental From The Movie Of The Same Name, where apart a few chants, the near-classical instrumentation gives a solemn air Next up is Rocket Man, a cello-infested track that haunts the listener well past the song's duration, it is a song taken up with Ray Bradbury's tale of an astronaut's failed return to earth. God Save The Child is the catchiest song on the album, it could easily have been writing by Grace Slick with Kantner's help, receiving an absolutely gorgeous rock instrumentation including an harpsichord. The Spine-chilling Song About A Rois yet another masterpiece, as both the cello and the flute brigs the chills from your spine to your heart..

From the jazzy Tell Me Why and the harpsichord-laden Sargery, you'd never guess this album was recorded (in three days) in Nashville, but then again non-belief will trike you again as you are reaching The Old Man.. which will not only chill you all over and give you goose bump all over and leave you emptied out from your tears of joy. Arresting, poignant, thought-provoking, gut emotion wrenching, the combination cello/flute that Tom Rapp uses so well is doing ravages into your brains. No doubt you'll not be the same after having heard this track, if at least for a few minutes. Riegal has Tom and his wife singing in duo again to cello drones, while the closing When The War Began can only give more chills at the solitude of the man against mankind's horrors, the whole thing contrasting heavily with Rapp's awesome and emotional songwriting.

Some albums simply never got their fair share of breaks and even some almost 40 years after need to be discovered by the public and praised by the XXX that it deserves and The Use Of Ashes is one of those albums. Few will touch you like this delicate and fragile beauty, one that simply could get acknowledge in the early 70's when folk was on its way out replaced by heavy prog rock or hard rock Well don't just sit there reading my review, run to the store and order this baby (hell the store master to order two or three, so he can listen to it as well and have his buddies buy it), because your life won't be complete until you've have this in your stereo.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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