The Orphan Brigade
HEART OF THE CAVE
At The Helm Records
Beauteous Collection of Mystical and Mysterious Songs and Stories.
A month or so back a friend of Ben Glover’s sent me a download of this album and I only got to play the first 3 or 4 songs before moving on to more pressing reviews.
Two weeks afterwards I was sitting in the living room reading and listening to my iPhone on shuffle when a track called The Birds Are Silent came on. I sort of recognised the voice so was looking at the track listing when the Postman knocked on the door with a pile of packets (CDs) for me. The first one I opened was……this actual album. Serendipity?
So now it behoves me to tell you why the fates were making me listen, love and review Heart Of The Cave.
Baring in mind the amount of people involved with The Orphan Brigade the end result isn’t like anything I’ve ever heard from any of them before, although it’s actually their second release…..and that’s a good thing; as I like musicians to occasionally challenge themselves and take risks.
The opening track Pile of Bones has an almost Native American music about before seamlessly sliding into a Celtic melody behind some luscious harmonies on a mystical introduction to the story.
Town of 100 Churches follows, and alongside the next song Osimo (Come to life) are more what I was expecting and beautifully paint a verbal picture of the town that the ‘theme/concept’ is based around…….a town in the Italian hills with more than its fair share of history and mystery.
That central theme makes the songs flow beautifully as the stories individually unfold revealing narratives about Secret Societies (V.I.T.R.I.O.L), death (the dark and monastic Meet Me In The Shadows) and of course redemption (Pain is Gone).
The Heart Of The Cave is very much the type of record that you need to take time over; and the investment is well worth it, with echoes of Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Quentin Tarantino at times.
But, as always there all always individual songs that shine above all others; and here that first song that caught my attention The Birds Are Silent is obliquely as brittle and beautiful as it is haunting, while Flying Joe is almost ‘up-tempo’ by comparison, it still manages to be quite Gothic too.
Then of course; there is the song that to all intents and purposes, wraps up the story……There’s a Fire That Never Goes Out. In itself it’s a singularly claustrophobic melodrama, but by the time you get to it, it brings the story to a quite magnificent conclusion, and is then followed by Donna Sacra which brings everything to a heart-aching close.
The Orphan Brigade revolves around songwriters Ben Glover, Neilson Hubbard and Joshua Britt but is also a collective bringing in the talents of household names like Gretchen Peters, Will Kimbrough and Barry Walsh as well as numerous others, without whom I’m sure this magnificent idea would never have come to life in the way it has.
Released September 29th 2017