Thursday, 31 May 2018

Steeleye Span - Wintersmith (2013)

Fire burn, fireplace so bright....

  

Released October 2013

Pretty much all of Steeleye Span's huge canon of material is derived in one way or another from historical sources - ballads, poems, early folk songs and so on. Not so here. This is an album of original work based on the late Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" novels. Now, I have to admit that I have no knowledge of Pratchett's work, nor interest in it. I am a long time fan of Steeleye Span, however. I love this album. The songs are all different, many of them captivating and atmospheric and some of them heartbreakingly sad.

TRACK LISTING

1. Overture

2. The Dark Morris Song
3. Wintersmith
4. You
5. The Good Witch
6. Band Of Teachers
7. The Wee Free Men
8. Hiver
9. Fire & Ice
10. The Making Of A Man
11. Crown Of Ice
12. First Dance
13. The Dark Morris Tune
14. The Summer Lady
15. Ancient Eyes
16. We Shall Wear Midnight                                    

Played to the usual high standard, the album is a joy from start to finish. Personal highlights for me are the upbeat Dark Morris Song which sets the atmosphere for the album and the haunting title track, Wintersmith which introduces us to the character of the Wintersmith. The romantic You is beautiful and The Making Of A Man is a delight. Indeed, all the tracks are enjoyable. It is like reading a book. The Good Witch is surprisingly touching, and Fire And Ice and Crown Of Ice are robust, vibrant songs. 

The album ends with violinist Peter Knight's tour de force, the emotional We Shall Wear Midnight which sees a character from the book asking the author Pratchett how he will go on to portray her, particularly, as it seems, he wasn't long for this world (as was the case). Truly moving.

The best edition to go for is the two CD edition which contains some excellent bonus tracks not considered for the original album and a number of live cuts from the accompanying "Wintersmith Tour”.

B+