Talking Elephant (label)
26 May 2014 (released)
21 June 2014
This interesting compilation covers ten years of music from Rainbow Chasers, a project put together by Ashley Hutchings following the disbandment of the Albion Band, citing the need to do something different. And he did. The focus was acoustic, strings and the personnel stripped down to just four. Unfortunately despite Hutchings reputation in the world of folk, the band proved too difficult for some and success eluded them.
Listening to this compilation it’s hard to see why they had such a hard time. The songs may not be hardcore traditional but they’d hardly leapt into the world of death metal either.
Opener, the lengthy Weather, has traditional overtones, though the Laurel Valley sound comes to mind at times too. And that’s the enchanting thing about this album: it’s a mixed bag. Take the acoustic About Dawn which is a beauty, and the complex Those Broad Shoulders which starts in a similar vein, only later to take a darker path as it progresses.
A Capella harmonies of The River’s Tale and the rolling guitar of Better be Smart are delightful, as are the interchanging lead vocals and harmonies of The Outside World.
They do go a little left field with The First Europeans, a haunting almost melancholic tune and funky on the Big Muddy. The album closes with the doleful One-eyed Owl, and its entrancing Nymanesque strings.
It’s worth restating that there’s nothing on this disc, (Which is a selection from their two albums and a number of unreleased tracks.) that could be termed difficult in the way that say Van der Graaf Generator could be. The songs are complex but there aren’t any really sharp, derailing turns, and the melodies and harmonies should engage any opened minded listener. It’s a clever, playful album that’s really worth some of your time.