The Cat's Melodeon
by The Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree
Deserted Village : DV20 : 2005
The Folk return at last with another batch of folk songs from their travels. From Cornish Rebel songs to bawdy carousing this three inch packs a lot into it's 7 tracks. 3" cdr in handmade packaging in an edition of 150.
This is now available again as part of The Soup & The Shilling double CD.
My favorite Irish rovers have returned, finally. "The Cat's Melodeon" is another short and brilliant release from these folk masters. The story goes that they are travellers, on an endless expedition throughout the British Isles. Searching for what? I don't know, but their trials are recorded and sent via post to the masters of the Deserted Village imprint. That's the story, anyway. What we have here are glorious, simple melodies laid over strummed and pluck acoustic folk instruments. This is like the Irish folk of old, especially when they sing in their native Gaelic (or so I assume. I have no idea, really).
Folk music was once a way of preserving the past and passing down histories from one generation to another in oral societies. Since the invention of writing (the greatest invention of all!), the need for music and other devices as historical "documents" has gone by the wayside. The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree hark back to those times. They act as roaming minstrels, spreading the word to the outlying villages through the green hill of their native Ireland and beyond.
The set opens with "Trelawny," a historic tale of William Trelawny, governor of what is now Jamaica (when it was a British colony). Great idea for a song - it's very Mountain Goats-esque. It steams its way across bowed instruments, plucked banjo, and flute. Add in a bit of female background vocals on the chorus as they sang "Shall Trelawny live or shall Trelawny die? His 20,000 Cornish men know the reason why." This is archaic and beautiful.
Much of this 3" is made up of very short tracks. Three of these tracks ("The Mermaid," "Caol is Eadar mi Islain," "Daybreak") are vocal-based affairs that will be stuck in your head for days. I imagine the group walking in a line over the hills and through the valleys singing as they go. Minstrel music, indeed.
But the real prize of this all too short release is the final track, "Here's a Health to All True Lovers." This celebration of life is the ultimate final? to this magical release. Irish bouzouki (I think) and flutes flicker and flutter and sky like soaring birds. Violin and jews harp round the instrumentation, giving this a wholly upbeat and whimsical feeling. Add in the doubled male and female vocals and you've got the perfect song. Literally. It's absolutely stunning. "For I'm a rover and seldom sober, I'm a rover of high degree. And when I'm drinking, I'm always thinking of how to gain my love's company," they exclaim. It's joyous and beautiful and infects every inch of your being. Drunken love has never sounded so sweet and perfect.
The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree have delivered a perfect little nugget of folk/pop bliss with "The Cat's Melodeon." If this was twice as long, I'd be tempted to give it a 10. It's that fucking good. Despite their excellent track receord, this is Deserted Village's finest hour. Everyone should be scrambling to secure a copy of this 3" before it goes away forever. 9/10 -- Brad Rose (15 August, 2005, Foxy Digitalis)