Oh, how we miss a capella music! Festival, in Fair and True, jumps right into that, and the listener couldn't be happier, the cut picking up ever more voices as it proceeds. If that seems a good omen, you've prophesied correctly because the next cut, "Boxcar", carries on the emphasis of the Powell sisters' (Alexis and Lindsay) marvelously post-Celtic/Elizabethan voices and melodies. Much as I like Shelleyann Orphan and much less so the Cocteau Twins, this is precisely what I'd hoped to be getting when I picked up those groups' releases, here a kind of cross between chant, Anglo-Celt, mellow, and soft chart musics, even a waft or two of Voix Bulgares.
The Powells both play guitar (Lindsay adds kalimba, zither, and piano), dragging in other musicians for occasional colorations on percussion and electric guitar, but this is kind of like a post-Renaissance period Ditty Bops (love them Ditties!) and there's just as much the Elizabethan as the Celtic throughout the release. My favorite cut? Return, where they forgot to credit the person playing the very cool recorder, a blend of the heavenly and sinister, though I coulda done without the studio muttering at the end. Festival is witness to what happens when singers take their trad choir practice seriously and see it through to its logical artistic end. Would that the schools actually trained students to do what this group is doing, taking the creative next step fearlessly. In lieu, we get an almost dead tradition revivified and can only hope that Come, Arrow, Come does what the schools won't: inspire and propagate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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