Lone Raven is a Celtic band in the same sense that Clannad is a Celtic band. In other words, though the Celtic influence is strong and actual traditional pieces pepper the band's repertoire, they play well beyond the scope of the genre. Bridges of Time points this out with fourteen examples of original and traditional tracks recorded over a span of years, each a Lone Raven step in time.
Once Upon a Winter Moon/Gaudete has a mid-Clannad feel, Craig Markley's synthesizer fading in beneath whistles in dreamscape mode only to give way to light world rhythm and Kara Markley's beautiful vocals. Perhaps Gaelic in origin, it sounds much more like Latin but with the superb and floating instrumental backup, no one will care. Only the purist need get beyond the tasteful production and haunting melody.
The traditional The Brown Thorn keys on Kara's fiddle, moving through three movements with ease. Perhaps another band would kick it up a bit more, but Craig and Kara lay back with fiddle and acoustic piano as core which gives the piece a bit less of a Celtic leaning. Indeed, it is as if Craig is emulating Leroy Anderson, whose semi-symphonic Irish Suite and Scottish Suite were as much triumphs in arrangement as composition. The result is a melodic piece in which the music and not the style is centerpiece.
Kara shines on Shivna, a traditional tune which lends itself well to Kara's intriguing Gaelic phrasing. Minimal instruments and sparse production focus on voice which is quite remarkably and wonderfully recorded.
An indication of the less Celtic side is Round the Horn, a Sid Omasta instrumental which lies within the realm of Simon & Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy), a light and bouncy pop tune which is very infectious with its layers of whistles and flutes over poppy acoustic guitar. Craig Markley co-wrote Maud with Deborah Colon and it is straight folk until the end, when fiddle takes us to jig- and reel-land.
The Lone Raven, which ends the CD, was recorded as part of a Craig Markley solo project and the new band lineup adopted the name from that time on. Relying on spacey and ethereal synthesizer and haunting whistle, it takes you on a floating ride until a light and airy James Galway-like movement caps it off.
One gets the feeling that if not for Craig Markley's insistent use of acoustic piano throughout, this might very well have been an album of Celtic music, but there is something unCeltic in the way he handles the piano. It has more of a symphonic or even accompaniment feel in places and is intriguing in its use. In the end, it adds a new touch to the pieces which is welcome.
As stated earlier, certain of these tracks were taken from earlier releases, some remastered and one remixed. The remaining six are evidently seeing the light of day on this CD, though there is no information listed as to time of recording. No matter, really, for wherever they were born, on this CD they matured into fully realized compositions and fit perfectly within the scope of Bridges of Time. Well done, Lone Raven. Well done.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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