PRESS - REVIEWS
Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie: chosen as a Best Release Of 2015 by Folk Radio UK and Adam Wilson’s Quiet Revolution
“Exceptional album, masterfully conceived and beautifully presented” Folk Radio UK
“Lovely, Highly Recommended” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
“Interesting mix of folk, roots and jazz” BBC Radio 3
“Jaw droppingly beautiful! Can’t blame me if all that falls out of my mouth are plaudits, hyperbole, language of the most glowing praise…Outstanding,a wonderful piece of orchestrated work ” Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales
“It's a stunningly ambitious, superbly crafted and intoxicating affairthat deserves to cast its siren spell on all who hear it.” Mike Davies,Fatea
“An excellent and originalalbum.” Dai Jeffries Folking.com
“Big... Bold... Epic. It's beautiful.” Neal A. Yeager nonhollywood.com
“Embracing and elusive, hypnotic and folk-symphonic with exquisite vocals, haunting musicianship and captivating story-lyrics. ”Stewart Henderson, BBC Radio 4 Broadcaster
“Excellent and atmospheric, compellingnew album.I can guarantee you will be hearing tracks from it on my radio show. “Adam Wilson, Quiet Revolution
“A measured, finely craftedfolk album”Paul Woodgate, Poor Little Fish
“One of the best session’s we’ve ever had,” Alan Thompson BBC Radio Wales
Dust and Gold- Net Rhythms
The final release of her colour trilogy (following Brilliant Blue and Red Tree) is a bit of lyrical globetrotter, charting her physical, emotional and spiritual journey to this point in time, though the songs are often told from a character's pov rather than her own.
Born in Australia, her homeland provides the setting for the first two tracks. Child In The Sun offers up a barefoot and blistered free spirit playing among the eucalyptus trees of Melbourne suburb Mt Macedon, ending with a wistful recognition of the same lost innocence that surfaces in Turnaround Town where, aged 10, she recalls a disturbing encounter with a distressed Aboriginal woman who, clutching a beer, grabbed at the handle of her mother's car begging to be run over.
Somewhere in Copenhagen is a playful tale of a couple of hungry newlyweds finding 'salvation' at a burger van at 3am, though the subtext - underscored by the Eastern European sax and gypsy violin fade out - is clearly taken from Bram Stoker. Life on the road - without Hammer Horror references - informs the piano accompanied Sing It Out, a musician's two year tour diary of arguments in Nashville and madness in Ireland by way of Mexico, London and Ludwigstadt, in Bayern.
Other tracks are more obscure and while one review claims Digging Down with its banjo and worksong rhythm and lines about the dry crumbling land refers to Australia it could just as easily be about the lost mining industry of Wales where she now lives. Equally, the poetic Feathers And Flowers with its double tracked vocal, cobwebbed folk air of spooked fecundity and images of petal, bone and rings of wire might have origins in Welsh mysticism or Aboriginal folklore alike.
However, searching to pinpoint inspirations and allusions can distract from the music and the overall thematic mood which, while almost all the songs talk of places and spaces, seems to be about soaking up life (Come On In), hanging on to the rollercoaster (a feverish gospel tinged Here We Go Now) or simply numbing yourself to the pain (She's OK) to make it through another day. As the title track, backed by simple acoustic guitar, puts it, 'hold out a palm with a kiss to that anger, make it disappear'.
I've noted before that's she's an extremely literate writer and much here has a novelist's turn of phrase or keen observation with imagery designed to conjure pictures or words (like 'aggregate') used as much for their sonic resonance as their meaning.
Musical texture is equally important. With Dylan Fowler producing, co-arranging and providing assorted guitars, clarinet, taragotta (a Hungarian wooden sax) and something called a tabwrth (answers on a postcard, please), and guest musicians on dulcimer, strings and accordion, the album was recorded 'live' - and partly improvised - in Abergavenny with Rachel noting that the rootsy tones of the banjo create a dusty feel with the sax and piano providing the gold texture. No surprise then to find the final track, Waiting For You, a spare combination of the three.
Melding together element of jazz, folk, blues, Americana, and gospel, the result (again illustrated by the closing number) is often deliberately dry and, even when the tempo picks up, there's an earthiness to the timbre that will again evoke thoughts of Nick Drake, early Joni Mitchell or Gillian Welch. On the title track she uses the phrase 'alchemy road'; it's albums such as this that provide the tarmacadem.
Mike Davies Net Rhythms
It's a courageous moment when an artist puts their creativity into the public arena and Rachel can be justifiably proud. As the boundaries melt away from her playing we can hear her creative intuition being met in perfect union with her technical abilities. It may be a turbulent world, with only chinks of light, and yet 'Red Tree' is a liberating listen. It should be welcomed with open arms, ears and eyes.
David Kushar - Spiral Earth
8 out of 10
Thea Gilmore has, for quite sometime now, been Britain’s female solo artist you’re allowed to like. Well, there’s a new kid on the block – enter Rachel Taylor-Beales. ‘Brilliant Blue’ is her debut solo album and , for want of a better description, it’s brilliantly blue. Easily as blue as Joni Mitchell’s Blue, if not more so. Here are ten torch songs put together with a whole bunch of heart, everyone an understated epic of economy and emotion. Flitting between piano and acoustic guitar, each song is tear-drenched odyssey with Beales’ battered vocals surely a lesson in soulfulness that Norah Jones might want to attend. - Americana UK