Lehto & Wright are cohorts also found playing with The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra featured recently here at Progmeister. Children’s songs album is a beautifully packaged two disc set comprising of a CD and a DVD which includes live footage in the studio and an interview. Art work and layout I thought intriguing and like the music gives little to make the listener and observer think for one moment that bands origins are American. Indeed listening to the traditional English arrangements you would be forgiven for thinking that the band weren’t a major player in the British folk/rock scene.
Well, what’s folk/rock got to do with progressive music I hear you say? I would have you say that Lehto & Wright escape the perimeters of folk despite the inclusion on the album of Dave Swarbrick and Martin Carthy versions of one song and an excerpt from Led Zeppelin’s The Rain Song, These two extraordinary musicians plow headlong into some compositions by Chick Corea. This sets the album apart from most things a have ever heard and whilst not being able to pigeon hole the band into any one genre suspect it is what makes them progressive.
I found this album to be a breath of fresh air. Steve Lehto along with John Wright really do cross a lot of boundaries on this superb musical adventure. Lovers of free form music will simply lap it up. There seems to be little to no constraint in technique or direction.
Very little is written about King Crimson at Progmeister, yet I can’t stress enough how important they were in the whole ethos of prog rock music. I bring this to your attention because I can’t stop thinking that this is what they would have sounded like had they added a folk element to their music. Steve Lehto bares all the hallmarks of the lamented Robert Fripp who could also reach from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds on his guitar.
In addition to Steve Lehto on all manner of guitars/vocals and John Wright on all manner of all things bass/vocals including pedals, there is Matt Jacobs who’s kick drum really does lend a dimension all of it’s own to the proceedings. Matt’s drumming really adds to the pace of many pieces on this album and really does provide a solid platform for the two key players.
Children’s songs comprises of four quality pieces “Wasn’t That A Time”, “The Broomfield Hill”, “Children’s Songs” and “Betsy Bell and Mary Gray”
The title track “Children’s Songs” is without doubt an opus crafted by esoteric musical craftsman and can loosely be described as a medley. Containing twenty elements it incorporates many traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic as well Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This may be folk/ rock, though, by this tracks very format it can be described as having traces of prog. So too does the story telling opener “Wasn’t That a Time” which is as tight as a drum and demonstrating the musical cohesion present throughout the whole performance. Not bad for the shortest song on the album. The sumptuous beginning of “The Broomfield Hill” demonstrates fully the deft of hand given to the Fender bass by John Wright and from its delicate intro soon explodes into a powerful folk tirade. The coup de gras of the album is “Betsy Bell And Mary Gray”. It showcased the band as a whole, playing with seamless synergy. Vocal harmonies and delightful acoustic guitars make this song very special, though it’s not long before the spirit of Robert Fripp takes over and folk gives way to a Crimson tide.
By the clock on my aging digitalia I make this album out to be one hour and twelve minutes of barnstorming folk/rock at its very best. Lovers of Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, Et al look no further. With a drought of new output from such bands, this wonderful take on some traditional folk songs and some astounding musical excursions should not be overlooked. Is it prog? I don’t know! But I like it.