Golden Fable - Alchemy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Golden Fable - Alchemy

by Howard Scott Rating:10 Release Date:2019-06-14
Golden Fable - Alchemy
Golden Fable - Alchemy

My handy-dandy little pocket dictionary defines the word alchemy as meaning: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination.” That being said, Golden Fable could not have come up with a more apropos title for their new album. The combination of Rebecca and Tim Joy with NEW Sinfonia ensemble manager and clarinettist Jonathan Guy has produced 13 cuts of pure gold from seemingly dissimilar elements.

The Joys have worked mostly as a duo or trio on past albums, but studio layering, while always done to top standards by the band, can only take you so far, particularly if you want to be able to reproduce the sound in a live setting. Their addition of Guy has brought them not only a world class bass clarinettist, but also an arranger who is at the top of his game. Add in a string quartet, and harp player from Guy’s NEW Sinfonia orchestra, plus Jack McCarthy on drums and percussion, and the total of all parts equals pure musical Valhalla.

Now, you could be thinking that with enough symphonic backing, almost anybody could sound pretty good. While that may be true, it surely isn’t the reason for the beauty created here. Tim Joy shows off an enviable degree of skill mastering numerous instruments on the record, including electric guitar, bass and classical guitars, keyboards, xylophone etc. Rebecca Joy, on the other hand, contributes only one instrument, but what an instrument it is. Her awe-inspiring soprano vocal blends perfectly with the music accompanying her. This amazing voice shows evidence of classical and choral training, and there is absolutely no reason she could not perform on an operatic stage. Pitch, tone and duration are perfect on every song.

The album is introduced with “Tripwires”,  which shows off Bethan Griffith’s exquisite harp plucking in the first minute. The string quartet of Sam Parker and Catherine Guy on violins, Jo Lucas on viola and Svetlana Mochalova on cello add their contribution to the pure aural elegance.   Once the percussion, keys and guitars are added, we need only await the short and sweet vocal. Everything you need to know about the disc is presented here in the first two minutes, and if it doesn’t leave you with a strong thirst for more, you may want to check your pulse.

There isn’t a clunker on the album, so it was tough to pick a favorite, but two tunes stuck out as just a little more outstanding to my ears. The first is “Enemy Lines”. A beautiful harp intro enhances Rebecca’s vocal for the first couple of minutes. As she warbles “Give me a reason, not to leave you, behind enemy lines”, the music builds quickly and darkly to a massive crescendo that makes the hair stand up on your arms. I don’t care what kind of music you enjoy, listen to this and marvel at the artistry at work here. It is exceedingly rare.

"Atlas" is another that is not to be missed. A joyous lilting melody blends into an incredible chorus that again hits the "feels" portion of the brain. It just makes you feel fortunate to be taking in such a perfect example of what music at its best has always been designed to accomplish. 

The previously mentioned “Hibernate” gives Tim a chance to show off his xylophone skills while Mochalova’s cello combines with Guy’s bass clarinet to set a deep foundation. This “opposites attract” combination with Rebecca’s voice is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Tim performs electric, classical and bass guitar, keyboards and backing vocals on “The Wolves",  while McCarthy’s percussion stands as the crest of the rogue wave of sound washing over the listener.

But I have only scratched the surface here. “Finery”, one of the strongest melodies on an album resplendent with them, has been released as the first single and video. “The Storm” displays outstanding classical guitar by Tim, a slightly less forceful vocal, and all of the ensemble players bursting forth in full song and glory. “Trust” creates a majestic and slow intro before an out-of-nowhere beat change gives the drums and bass the spotlight. 

Everyone involved resides in North Wales, and the beautiful natural surroundings have obviously influenced the music. Titles such as “New Dawn”, "Hibernate” and “The Wolves” surely speak to a natural theme, and lyrics about the “lady of the mountain” and houses haunted by beings trapped in golden cages gives the listener a brief glance into the writer’s mindset and environment. The music paints a mind’s eye soundscape of rugged terrain dotted with ruined abbeys and mysterious ancient forests. 

In a world infected these days with the lowest-common-denominator level of cynicism that those chosen to govern us instil, it is a wondrous thing to remember that we all belong to a species also containing members capable of creating such incredible brilliance in the world of musical art. This album is an antidote to whatever is ailing you. It is pure, unmitigated bliss on a black vinyl disc.

Next time you want to have a fancy dinner party, you know the kind where everyone gets dressed up and the fine china comes out, put this album on in the background. Not only will your guests want to know the origin of the music, but they are sure to be impressed with your outstanding taste. This dazzling creation is a win-win for everyone involved.


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