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Mellow Candle - Swaddling Songs CD (album) cover

SWADDLING SONGS

Mellow Candle

Prog Folk


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
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 )
Report this review (#26394)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
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 more than Basket of Light and less than Unhalfbricking. This album is somewhat hard to find but worth any search.
Report this review (#26395)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
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.
Report this review (#26396)
Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
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 two female vocalists harmonizing over their original songs which clearly becomes the main attraction. Very similar to the stylings of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and any Maddy Prior project. Do not get me wrong, this is a great album that is well played/sang throughout; it is just not original. It is tough to pick the best songs on the album as they are all of the same sort of style, but "Heaven Heath," "Sheep Season," and "Silversong" stick out as my favorites as well as "Boulders On My Grave," which has vocal executions sounding a bit like Sandy Denny doing an impression of the band Comus. All in all, a great example of early 70's folk-rock, but not overly original or necessary to own.
Report this review (#42748)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#84242)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
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.

Report this review (#109813)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
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 !
Report this review (#135385)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
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...

Report this review (#138231)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
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.

peace

Report this review (#173882)
Posted Friday, June 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
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 masterpiece after another. Comparisons to Denny-era Fairport would be appropriate but not particularly telling, as this album is a true original.

The melodies here are often described as "beautiful" but they are much more than that. They are often extremely sophisticated and incredibly original. "Sheep Season may well be the greatest single piece of 5 minute music I have ever encountered. The female vocals here are (and I do *not* exaggerate) simply not to be believed. Utterly breathtaking. The melodies wrap around soft, flanged out guitar, acoustic piano and breezy drum and bass work. This is the stuff of legend and when you see the original album goes for a couple of grand, it's easy to see why.

The rest of the album ranges from super complex, fast-paced rockfolk with twists and turns to the breezy, soft passages that are just a perfect calling for the haunting vocal approach that is surely their greatest asset.

In terms of quality, this is right up there with Fairport's 'Liege and Lief.' Perhaps only the second Dando Shaft album would also compare in its own way.

Now, in terms of sound quality, I advise that you track down one of these five options if CD is your game: The Edison Japan CD release (ERC-29223), Polydor Japan CD (POCD-1903, Acme CD (ADCD 1040) or Si-Wan (SRMC 0021). These are all the same and very good. See For Miles CD (SEECD 404) is also good and fairly similar. Maybe not quite as good as it seems just a little brighter. The more recent release on Esoteric seems to have some upper midrange boost that is a bit glassy at higher volumes. I find this version a bit sterile and it also seems to have had the hiss level lowered from the earlier versions, which already seemed to have had some annoying dehissing but this takes it even further. It is most noteable on something like "Reverend Sisters" and seems to leave the recording sounding just a bit closed in and less natural. Also avoid the Japan SHM mini lp CD like the plaugue. It is brickwall compressed and worst version ever released on CD. The older Japan mini from 2001 was decent, but basically sounds like original transfer for Edison only a little louder with some compression.

On vinyl, I have heard the Si-Wan version from 1993 and the more recent Universal/Si-Wan white vinyl release. Both of these sound just like the original CD transfer. Same with the Acme LP and the Tapestry bootleg. The new Deluxe version on Rise Above Records is a great package, but again, it sounds like it also originates from the same old CD transfer that's been around since that first release on Edison.

I recently obtained a 2nd UK Deram LP pressing of this album with handwritten matrix and it is glorious. It finally seemed to confirm what I have suspected for some time now, and that is that even the original CD transfer done for Edison (which as mentioned, basically seems to have been the source of every CD and 90s to present LP version ever issued) had some no-noise applied. It also has quite a smiley-faced EQ curve compared with the older vinyl. The midrange on the vinyl is stunning in comparison. If you think this album sounds nice on one of the CD versions, you should hear how amazing it was prior to digital intervention.

5 Stars all the way for 'Swaddling Songs'. This is truly a musical masterpiece.

Report this review (#182794)
Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#246561)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another one shot band that unfortunalty didn´t 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 can´t 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 don´t 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 you´re 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.

Report this review (#253279)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
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). Mellow Candle was an imaginative folk rock band, with the singing talents of two ladies (Alison Williams and Clodagh Simonds), in addition to bassist Frank Boylan, drummer William Murray and guitarist Dave Williams. But the main feature was Clodagh's piano parts. The main comparison coming to mind is Renaissance of course. Well, the classical influences are less strong certainly but "Swaddling Songs", their debut album (1972) is rich in varied and simple melodies. But, most of all, the blending of those two gorgeous female voices is a treat. This was a fantastic album deserving new discovery. Thanks to Esoteric records, we have now a remastered version (the original recording on Deram was produced by David Hitchcock of Caravan fame), some bonus tracks and an elegant booklet. The fans will note a second album, "The Virgin Prophet", featuring unreleased and different versions of songs found on "Swaddling Songs", was released in 1996.
Report this review (#266484)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
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.
Report this review (#1729470)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#2268198)
Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 | Review Permalink
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 songstresses, Clodagh Simonds (who also played piano, harpsichord and mellotron on the album) and Alison Williams, with a guitarist, bass player and drummer completing the traditional five-piece line-up. The band members were surprisingly young, with Clodagh Simonds being just 15 years old and still at school at the time when the band first got together in 1968 to record their first single "Feelin' High", a song later added as a bonus track to the CD re-issue of "Swaddling Songs". For collectors, a Mellow Candle compilation album "The Virgin Prophet" was released in 1996, containing previously unreleased material and alternative early versions of songs from the classic "Swaddling Songs" album.

It's Bach to the Future for some classically-inspired Folk with our first angelic song, "Heaven Heath". There are definite shades of Fairport Convention's classic "Fotheringay" to be heard here. Fotheringport Confusion, maybe. The gorgeous female harmonies and the tinkling sound of the harpsichord give the music the kind of playful pastoral aura that Mr J.S. Bach might have aired on his G-string. The gentle bucolic melody conjures up images of a sun-kissed golden meadow where sheep may safely graze. If Heaven was a place on Earth, then "Heaven Heath" would make the perfect musical accompaniment in the Garden of Eden. Red sky at night, shepherd's delight, and for *shear* musical delight, comes "Sheep Season", a charming and romantic mellow melody that's as reassuringly comforting as being swaddled in a warm woolly blanket in front of a roaring log fire. This outstanding sheep-shearing song also features a simply sublime guitar solo in the style of Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the celestial sound of a mellotron too. There's more rapturous sweet nectar on the way with "Silver Song", a bright and shining piano ballad bathed in warm golden strings, that's so beautifully uplifting, it brings to mind the awe-inspiring music of Renaissance with the soaring siren-song voice of Annie Haslam. The swirling and echoey twin harmonies of Clodagh Simonds and Alison Williams are like manna from Prog-Folk heaven here. The gorgeous spectrum of music contained within this treasured album is so far proving to be as pleasing to the ears as the Technicolour riot of the Chelsea Flower Show is pleasing to the eyes, only without the huge crowds and the hayfever and the sight of someone stumbling facedown drunk into the flowerbeds.

It's Every Witch Way But Loose now: the witches are on the loose as the album takes a quirky and slightly sinister turn with some spooky Halloween antics in "The Poet and the Witch". The music is an off-kilter Witches Brew of constantly yo-yoing vocals, ranging from very high to very low, in a creepy Comus "First Utterance" kind of way. This offbeat song is unlikely to give you nightmares though as Clodagh and Alison are clearly angelic white witches blessed with heavenly voices, and the music is no more scary than a box of Black Magic chocolates. Flying into view now in magnificent plumage are the "Messenger Birds", a gently rippling piano and guitar piece featuring soaring ethereal vocals which ascend up into the heavens in the best traditions of classic Renaissance. This sparkling Emerald Isle jewel is the kind of heaven-sent music that blissful sweet dreams are made of. It's as joyously uplifting as a jubilant 2020 street party to celebrate the end of the coronavirus lockdown, with hugs and kisses all 'round, but only with *really* close neighbours. We're coming back down to earth now with some very conventional folky fare in the shape of "Dan the Wing", which draws obvious comparisons with Fairport Convention's "Tam Lin". This Folk song sounds so traditionally English, it brings to mind gaily-dressed (and occasionally gay) Morris Men - adorned with colourful bell pads and tassels - merrily gallivanting around the Maypole in the pub car park, whilst in the meantime, any self-respecting Englishmen have already beaten a hasty retreat inside the pub to escape them.

"Reverend Sisters" is another soothing piano ballad in the classic Renaissance mould, sprinkled with some magical Mellow Candle fairy dust. The gentle tinkling of the ivories combined with the lilting honey-toned voices of Clodagh and Alison, reminds one of "The Sisters" from the Renaissance "Novella" album. This haunting refrain washes over the listener like a gently rippling stream with heavenly harmonies to die for. It's a typical Irish Catholic tale of strict paragons-of-virtue nuns trying to steer their schoolgirls away from adopting any naughty black habits. We're breaking the spell now with "Break Your Token", which is a return to more traditional folky fare, with those eccentric off-kilter vocals again giving the music a certain edginess, and "Buy or Beware" continues in the same vein, with lyrics that appear to be an attack on rampant consumerism, long before anti-capitalist demonstrations became en-vogue for extreme left-wingers everywhere, although one feels the protests are not so much aimed at consumerism generally, but more likely aimed at the "Greed is Good" ethos of bank- busting rogue traders like Nick Leeson in their loud stripy suits, or Gordon Gecko Wall Street types in their bright red braces and swanky offices. Anyway, back to the music, and this classic Prog-Folk album is well-worth ten pounds, ten dollars or ten euros of anyone's money, whatever your political views.

From the economic to the esoteric now with "Vile Excesses", an enigmatic fairytale centred around shadows of unicorns and crowns of thorns, although judging from the song title, there's a cryptic environmental message contained within the lyrics somewhere. Again, this charming song is a wonderful spellbinding cross between Renaissance and Fairport Convention with a light sprinkling of Pentangle and Trees thrown in too. The penultimate song "Lonely Man" represents a departure from Folk into moody bluesier territory, although the twin harmonies of the two female leads sound just as enchanting as ever on this melancholic refrain. Finally, "Boulders on My Grave" takes off on a Pentangly Light Flight of fancy in a lively uptempo rocker that's very reminiscent of the vocalese style of Annie Haslam. Fittingly, "Boulders on My Grave" turns out to be the rockiest rolling stone on the entire album and it's a real album highlight. This is where the band really get to light things up for a fiery finish by burning the (Mellow) Candle at both ends, so to speak.

This precious one-off album is a true lost and found gem in the vast pantheon of Folk-Rock. Mellow Candle have graced the Prog-Folk stage with this rather special album of warm and comforting "Swaddling Songs". This delightful collection of whimsical evergreen melodies and sugar-sweet harmonies from a bygone age is a rare and revered album to treasure for all time. It's a timeless album with all of the enduring appeal of a United Nations world heritage site, provided the Taliban doesn't come along and blow it up. You're as unlikely to find this rare album at a bargain-price charity shop or thrift store as finding a mad mullah presiding over a bar mitzvah.

Report this review (#2408937)
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | Review Permalink

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