Another jaunt across the ocean brings home a harvest of arresting melodies – and then some.
This ensemble’s third album was also their last to bear a one-word name on the cover, before Scott Jeffers tried to strike out on his own only to reconvene the collective later on with his cognomen appended to it – which is not strange given the way the American’s violin and voice dominate the record. The already familiar to fans mélange of Celtic and Anatolian motifs acquires a new edge here that would define the band’s development for more than a decade, yet while there’s no real balance between the old-world patterns, as European flavors are favored over Middle Eastern ones, the overall tunes’ flow should feel riveting nevertheless.
And how can it be different if the platter opens with “Back Home In Derry”? This rebel song is hung on a heavy riff – just as a faux-orchestral “Ephesus” is, further down the line – and passionate singing that sweep away the group’s initial reserve and build upon a belligerent groove, Jeffers’ fiddle sawing over Gary Wilson’s economic guitar figures and Justin Bartik’s fretless bass runs. Still, whereas the equally hefty, albeit less dramatic, title track offers the listener a bouzouki-spiced dance to join in and proceed towards a much lighter, though deliciously fervent, reel, “Foggy Dew” returns to Éire for a fiery gallop, driven by Marco Zavala’s drums to battle lines, until the instrumental “Black Mountain” disperses the mist in an infectious acoustic swirl.
This is why “The Well” which slows down the drift has so strong an impact, meandering to the sound of mandolin like a caravan between dunes to drink a sweet melody once oasis is reached and everyone is settled down for a well-deserved rest. However, “10,000 Years” may seem to overstay its incense-exuding welcome, despite the details that pepper up the piece and hypnotically overlapping vocals, yet the finale “Turkish Malfouf” playfully brings together all the elements of the ensemble’s method – to a great dynamic effect.
From then on, the collective’s course would be following the only principle: be adventurous to be riveting. That’s what “Fields Forever” is about.