18 January 2010 (released)
10 January 2010
One of the tracks on this album is titled ‘Dated But Still Lovely’ and that is really what I expected from an album called ‘Hey Hey Hippy Witch’ but what is delivered is a collection of stunning, understated, psychedelic folk.
Alison O’Donnell was a founding member of Irish folkies Mellow Candle and she brings a fine voice and thoughtful lyrics to the table with some fine songs that sit in the folk world but are utterly contemporary as well.
The songs have a light and lilting quality as she weaves quilts of the imagination over traditional rhythms and airs and the music stirs the heartbeat one moment and tickles your memory at another but the combination of elements puts you in mind of the greats of British and Irish folk. The ghosts of Nick Drake and Sandy Denny will stand to applaud the music’s nod to great British pastoral and folk and bands like Dr Strangely Strange or Fotheringhay or even artists like Kate Bush will find resonances of their finest moments here but there is just as much of the modern and at times this is chillingly timeless.
The titles tell a small part of the story while the themes tell more – ‘Song Of The Gael’ with its Irish nod to history or ‘No Meek Chrism’ telling its tale of the nuns who were the earliest teachers to the young ms O’Donnell or ‘March Of The Strawberry Blondes’, a two minute homage to Redheads, human and animal. ‘The Flight Of The Valiant Earls’ is a traditional Irish lament for a failed political uprising in the seventeenth century with a vibrant drone underpinning the traditional folk phrasing and the album proper finishes with a love song with a wonderfully eerie tone to the song and featuring harmonium and bhodran.
All told this is a delightful album that bears repeated listening – it won’t grab you at first listen or give up all its secrets easily but it is one that is worth some effort from the listener.