Are you ready for an epic journey? Then let The Emerald Dawn be your musical guides. Released on 21st March, which is Ostara, the Pagan festival celebrating the Spring Equinox, To Touch The Sky is the fourth album by the Cornwall-based quartet, who specialise in melodic, eclectic soundscapes.
The band comprises multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Tree Stewart; multi-instrumentalist Ally Carter; bassist Dave Greenaway and drummer Tom Jackson.
The theme of the album is allegorical, Stewart having designed the symbolically poignant album cover, which traces the path to and up a mountain, the focal point of the musical story.
A grandiose piano opens The Awakening, creating a heady, all-encompassing atmosphere which is sustained throughout the composition. Ethereal voices, dramatic drum rolls, evocative cymbals, a dreamy synthesiser, and powerful guitar chords bring a sense of anticipation to the story as it develops.
New musical elements are added to And I Stood Transfixed, which begins gently with acoustic guitar leading into a more rhythmic section into which both acoustic and electric guitars are introduced, reaching a climax with Carter's expressive saxophone. Slowing down, synthesisers and heavenly voices take over and Stewart's flute provides another lovely texture to the piece.
A huge shift takes us into a passage which sounds much darker and into which the saxophone returns, leading into a quieter synthesiser-led section and finally the guitars return.
The magnum opus is The Ascent, more than 22 minutes in length, that begins with synthesisers, followed by piano and flute. Stewart's vocals are powerful and haunting, as she describes the emotions felt when making this difficult journey to the summit of the mountain, with lines such as “To find a bold path that takes us higher, far above vast and misty shrouds”.
The story takes a twist as the climbers get caught in a blizzard, Tree's voice sending out a message of hopelessness and loss, followed by the final push to the summit where she exclaims: “To know we've done it, and tell our story, it was our duty to touch the sky.”
There is a sound like a horn of triumph to mark this musical moment, followed by a guitar solo and then a very plaintive piano to herald the start of the difficult descent and end the journey.
The meditative, immersive quality of To Touch The Sky is compelling, so darken your room, light a candle and put your headphones on to embark on your journey to the summit.
***+ Alison Reijman
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