Davey Dodds is regarded as the master of Celtic rock 'n reel. He has an interesting musical history. For example, Davey was the front man of the English symphonic folk rock band Red Jasper. They released 6 studio albums and 1 live album. With this band he was also the headliner of The European Symphonic Rock Festival in 1994. At the time, Davey also played acoustically as support for Fish. Fans of cult TV show The Detectorists will already know the extraordinary work of Dodds through The Unthanks' cover of The Magpie, which features in the end credits. After a long hiatus in making music Davey returned to the music business in 2017 with his comeback album Kernowcopia. Now three years later he asked me if I was interested in reviewing his second solo album Toadstool Soup. Which I of course couldn't refuse!
Those who went to see Pendragon on their earlier this year largely cancelled Love Over Fear Tour might have seen a nice, bearded man entertaining the crowd on his own. He did this by playing only on his acoustic guitar, singing songs and telling stories. Yes their support was the one and only Davey Dodds folks!
Those who expect to hear true progressive rock tunes on Toadstool Soup I'll have to disappoint. I guess the album deserves attention here because of Davey's musical roots and history in the progressive rock scene mentioned earlier. On this almost three quarters long album you hear most of all music which is very much regarded as contemporary folk music.
This contemporary folk music on Toadstool Soup was, next to Davey Dodds (vocals, octave mandolin, mandolin, tin whistle, bodhran, frame Drum), recorded with the help of Martin Solomon (violins, Celtic harp), Carlton Crouch (border pipes, descant recorder), Colette DeGiovanni (vocals), Colin Loveless (frame drum) and Jim Mageean (vocals).
The eight compositions on this album have hardly progressive rock influences. However sometimes some of the music can be compared to some of the songs which Mostly Autumn recorded for their album Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings released in 2001. But without the electric guitars and synthesizers. Mainly because of the use of instruments such as mandolin, tin whistle, bodhran, violins and recorder. Other times there can be a musical link made with the albums we reviewed of Les Penning. Namely Belerion (2016, see review) and Return To Penrhos (2019, see review). Albums he made with the help of Robert Reed and Phil Bates. Finally I'll have to tell you that I really was curious if the title track Toadstool Soup Parts 1, 2 & 3 with a total length of almost 11 minutes would be sounding like a kind of epic piece of music. Well this was of course not the case at all and are in fact 3 separate pieces put together as one long track.
The review of the album Belerion I ended with the words;”Those who like things more complex, with lots keyboards and electric guitars can skip this release. I guess the best possible way you can enjoy it is by sitting at the fireplace with your loved ones, drinking some wine and listening to the music of this album. Maybe you find no better company!”. I guess in many ways this can be said about Toadstool Soup too!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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