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Andreas Vollenweider - Eolian Minstrel CD (album) cover

EOLIAN MINSTREL

Andreas Vollenweider

 

Crossover Prog

3.10 | 11 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The relevance of the New Age genre had largely fizzled by 1993. Andreas Vollenweider peaked commercially with his Grammy winning "Down to the Moon", experienced the typical follow through on "Dancing with the Lion" - higher chart position, fewer weeks on the chart - while his run on the mainstream charts ended with a thud on the critically acclaimed "Book of Roses", although he had sufficient resources to continue elaborate projects for his worldwide fan base. He is basically a niche artist, most of whom never even attain his level of sales, and only a select few of whom can elongate a single sustained drone over several decades and assuage anesthetized eardrums the world over, such as ENYA.

To be fair to Vollenweider, at least he tried to change. "Eolian Minstrel" was his first song oriented album, enlisting durable American folk pop singer Eliza Gilkyson on most tracks, with predictably middling results. One might have expected a more Celtic accent, but I hear almost as many jazz and pop shadings, which further dilutes the potential impact. Still, "Reason Enough" thrusts forward like the best OYSTERBAND intro and doesn't let up, while the more strictly rock oriented "Harvest" veers from the track most likely to be skipped to the one most likely to be skipped to. "Desert of Rain" generates a swirling wiccan atmosphere like the best of STEVIE NICKS, and the sole spot by CARLY SIMON, "Private Fires, may not be a barn burner but it's intimate enough. "Leaves of the Great Tree" adds a welcome country-ish impurity to the catholic diorama.

The few instrumentals fail to build momentum or bridge the vocal tracks, while certainly offering agreeable passages in a more Celtic or Native American vein. The exception is the elegant "Leaves of the Great Tree" with the violin and sax coaxing each other into climactic levitation and the harp making sure they don't stay airborne. It's a rare emotional crest for music that is often rightly accused of being too sedate for its own good.

While Vollenweider and friends might not be recommended for the graduate level prog fan, "Eolian Minstrel" doesn't let down the listener who craves integrity with a light touch.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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