Elaine Samuels And Kindred Spirit -
Phoenix Rising

(CD 2016, 38:27, HKRCD009)

The tracks:
  1- Kindred Spirit(6:21)
  2- Life Is A Circus(4:59)
  3- Wolves At The Gate(6:56)
  4- Let's Be Happy(3:48)
  5- It's Not Too Late(6:38)
  6- Horse With No Name(5:21)
  7- Drunken Landlady(2:15)
  8- Feed The Fire(5:18)
  9- Beautiful Day(3:42)
10- Let The Music Set You Free(5:23)
11- Children Of The Stars(7:41)
12- The Phoenix(7:02)

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Elaine Samuels And Kindred Spirit - not a band you encounter every day, unless you're moving in the folk and folk prog circles. Not something I do, but I have my share of that music in my collection. With this album, the band brings a nice mix of almost classic folk, folk prog and renaissance folk, but also some (not really) straight forward rock. That mix is easily explained by this statement from Elaine Samuels in an interview: "I have been influenced heavily by groups like Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Curved Air, The Strawbs, Show Of Hands and Steeleye Span."

The songs were written over a 15 year period, before being released as an album in 2015, and re-released already in 2016 (although details about the difference between the two are hard to find).

A key element in the music on this album is the violin of Gavin Jones, who unfortunately left the band in the summer of 2016. That violin and the guitar of Elaine herself are the basis of the music, but the superb flute and saxophone work of Catherine Dimmock, the great bass lines of Mike Hislop and the very fitting drums of veteran Les Binks (Roger Glover, Judas Priest and more) make the performance of Elaine's compositions into a real band effort.

This works best for the happy, folky tunes, like Life Is A Circus, and Beautiful Day as well as the somewhat rockier Kindred Spirit. In these, the catchy tunes and rhythms contain hints of Steeleye Span. The most interesting tracks to me are the more complex ones though. First of all Wolfs At The Gate, which is part of what Elaine calls her “beast inside trilogy”, and indeed it does have a beast inside- if only in the form of a haunting violin. Then there's Children Of The Stars, which starts as a renaissance folk track, but becomes more rocky toward the end. Last but not least the title track, which has a beautiful atmosphere, and a wonderful melodic arrangement.

These are accompanied by renaissance tracks like Let The Music Set You Free and Drunken Landlady, but also the guitar driven rocker Feed The Fire, on which Elaine shows that although she can sing the melodies of the title track, she is also capable of laying down a more raw sound.

A special mention for Horse With No Name, a cover of the 1971 track by America, which certainly benefits from the additional flute and violin that is added here.

An album recommended for those who like folky prog rock music, and worth a try for all others who need music that fits a sunny evening at home.

***+ Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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