Maddy Prior - Ravenchild - CD
Maddy Prior has never been one to rest on her laurels: whether with Steeleye Span, duetting as one of the Silly Sisters with June Tabor, or in her solo projects she's always been at the experimental edge of British folk.
Here the centrepiece of the album is a sequence of songs all about Ravens: Ravens as tricksters, as mischievous adolescents, as harbingers of death, as parents. It's an intriguing concept and one that works well in patches ("The Masts of Morrigan" is especially evocative), but six songs out of 13 on the album stretches the idea a little too far. Elsewhere, she turns her attention to Bonaparte's retreat from Russia, blacksmiths and poachers--traditional folky subjects, to be sure, but all given characteristically moody treatment by Prior, whose oft-voiced mission is to rescue folk from its cosy "fol-de-rol" image.
In this quest she is aided immeasurably by sensitive accompaniments from her musical collaborators, who add synthesisers, electric guitars and even a Chapman Stick to the mix, helping to make Ravenchild an unusual and thought-provoking folk album.