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Steeleye Span - Time CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.83 | 11 ratings

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4 stars After 7 years without touring, Steeleye Span started a 25th anniversary tour. "Time", the band's 14th album, was recorded and released in response to the tour. Vocalist Maddie Prior was experiencing vocal issues and asked original member Gay Woods to rejoin the band to help with vocal duties, which she did after a lot of coaxing since she hadn't sung for quite a while and didn't feel ready. Fortunately, for fans and music lovers, this sparked a new interest in the band and also a series of new albums to follow. Prior would end up leaving the band after the albums release and tour, however, and Woods would become the lead female vocalist.

"The Prickly Bush" is a take on an old traditional song "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" which is where the song "Gallows Pole" comes from, which is a popular cover by LZ on the Led Zeppelin III album, and Steeleye Span does an excellent job with this song, great harmonies and instrumentation, making it revelant. You should recognize the Gallows Pole melody on this track. "Old Maid in the Garrett / Tam Lin Reel" combines two songs of Irish tradition. The first has vocals shared by Prior and Woods while the second part is mostly an instrumental reel or dance led by violins.

"Harvest of the Moon" is a catchy, lilting number based on a folk song to a pagan Goddess. On "Underneath Her Apron", we have an example of the lower register that Prior was using on this album because of issues she was having with her voice. "The Cutty Wren" had been done in part by the band on the song "The King" on a previous album, but this one is a much darker and experimental version with a dark drone and complex harmonies and vocal placement on this brilliant version. "Go From My Window" has a more contemporary feeling to it, but of course, retains its folkish sense. It is based on the traditional song "One Night As I Lay on My Bed" and has a nice guitar solo reminiscent of Mark Knopfler.

"The Elf Knight" is obviously darker and in a minor key. It is based upon a song cycle of ballads named "Lady Isabel and The Elf Knight" which has quite a dark story line, hence the reason for the dark feel. The first half of the track features the vocals while the 2nd half features a long and lovely instrumental section before it returns to the final verse, led mostly by violin. "The Water is Wide" is based on a Scottish song from the 1600s of the same name. There have been many renditions and versions of this song. This has a long instrumental introduction led mostly by the violin, starting out improvising on the theme, before playing the theme through, all before the vocals start. After a soft verse, the guitar takes the theme and turns it into a beautiful solo which the violin joins later making it into a heartfelt song of longing. The weakness of Prior's voice is evident at the end of this track, but it doesn't weaken the song, but shows an effective vulnerability.

"You Will Burn" is disturbing track about purification of the spirit by fire, torture and death. This is an example of the joyous songs the Christians used to sing about forgiveness through the purging of evil unbelievers. "Corbies" is a new version of "Twa Corbies" from the band's debut album. The song comes from the traditional song "Three Ravens" about some ravens discussing making lunch of a dead knight. "The Song Will Remain" is the final track of this album. This is another lush and slow ballad that has some excellent harmonies and a more contemporary style.

This album marked a new beginning for the band as over the last 16 years, only 3 studio albums were released, while afterwards, the band released a new album every two years for a period. The album definitely shows a marked improvement over the last few albums, with a nice lushness, a touch of darkness, and a renewed sense of believability. The album is quite enjoyable and does not stray far from the folk elements, but the few times it does, it is done with remarkable taste and style. This is definitely one of the better albums from the latter years of the band.

TCat | 4/5 |


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