Stanyan 1978 / Sommor 2018
Risen on the other side of the world, spirits of Éire’s reels ring through the years.
If MELLOW CANDLE’s “Swaddling Songs” – considered a cult classic now – sounded like songs of innocence, the music Alison O’Donnell and David Williams came up with, in good company they had found in South Africa six years later, as FLIBBERTIGIBBET smells of experience. Gone were progressive leanings and caressing harmonies – replaced on the group’s only album with reckless rocking down the folk furrow, fun oozing out of every pore in the fresh quartet’s aural fiber to offset “An Suisín Bán” and other finely orchestrated vestiges of nostalgia.
“The Brisk Young Widow” may feel dry in its rustic swirl, but pieces such as the disco-paced “Blackberry Bush / Blackberry Blossom” or bodhran-bolstered, frivolous “Four Drunken Maidens (Rolling In The High Grass)” may prompt the listener to join in and have a field day. Yet while merry mandolins keep “The Blackleg Miner” well above the ground, the whistle-enhanced “The Black Cap” isn’t ashamed to wade in pop waters, and two instrumental medleys of traditional tunes demonstrate the ensemble’s prowess as players.
There’s magic melange of voices, the Irish expats’ vocals seamlessly blending with those of Joanna and Barrie Glenn to either gel into heavenly harmonies or engage in call-and-response to render the concise “Little Roving Sailor” and the titular number irresistible. Still, electric strum imbues “Mariner Blues” with tangible sadness, and “Seafarer” is a harbor for the quartet’s acoustic idyll, “The Green Cockade” owes as much to Renaissance pastorale as to the Everlys’ gloss. Only the immersive melancholy of “Episodes” seems to point toward greater vision which would be alien to this jolly offering. To the Moon and back, the album is that good.