STEVE ORCHARD: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (2013)
“As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is a very beautiful album where every track possesses its little something that touches”
1 For Gaia 6:13 2 Sepia Postcards 5:12 3 A Shaded Place 3:47 4 Strands of Light 4:29 5 Shallow Water 6:06 6 Mistral 4:56 7 News of War 5:16 8 Slave of the Heart 5:35 9 Honeysuckle 4:26 10 Sierra 5:34 11 Moth in the Lantern 4:24 12 Redwood 4:40 AD126CDr
(DDL 60:38) (Melodious New Age)
I like the music of Steve Orchard. If the man is not a dreamer (I don't know him that much to be truly sure that he is), he is on the other hand very poetic. Soft and impregnated by an intense romantic approach, his music flirts with the traditional atmospheres of the England countrysides where the medieval poetry breathes by some soft chords and poignant arrangements. Having drawn his inspirations from the wreck of the Titanic, the English guitarist returns with an album always so intimist inspired this time by Laurie Lee's memoir; AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING. Available in downloadable format on AD Music platform, this third album from the English musician is mainly acoustic, except for electric guitar riffs and some very nice orchestral arrangements, weaved in the shadows of Mellotron that doesn't hesitate to spread tears of violins and sighs of flutes, when it's not more traditional instruments like the accordion.
The first notes of For Gaia resound like a soft musical canon of carillons. The fingers marked by magic; Steve Orchard makes sing his strings as he assembles them to adopt an orchestral acoustic approach. A soft synth with fragrances of flute caresses these meditative notes, forging a seraphic melody which subdivides its feelings in a dreamlike depth. Livelier, and clearly closer to a kind of acoustic ballad, Sepia Postcards displays his moving melody in a movement of ethereal waltz. The strings are finely pinched, drawing with precision a melody which drags its earworm in ambiences sometimes folk and sometimes cinematographic with wings of Mellotron violins which float with a scent of nostalgia. I think in particular of the delicate and morphic Mistral, and of its electric guitar which releases its harmonies on a track with a soft dreamy tempo. What is to say about the very sad News of War? And Slave of the Heart which cries in the thoughts of its violin, of its accordion and of its heart-rending feelings? Two marvels of sensibility that tear up the wall of the soul.
Meditative, A Shaded Place flows into our ears with a spring approach where blow the dreams of the angels and sing torn ballads by birds. Steve Orchard paints his music with a surprising orchestral delicacy, so giving constantly a poignant depth of melancholy. Thus, Strands of Light hesitates between its spectral and medieval approach fed by poetic orchestral harmonies. It's of a sweetness to make sing the angels and to make sigh the rocks. More contemporary than folk, Shallow Water is a ballad for Elves which cavorts on a delicate rhythm. The approach adopts a kind of acoustic lounge with a fine meshing of acoustic and electric. That reminds me of Darshan Ambient, quite as the atmospheres of collective joy which surround Moth in the Lantern. We can hum it near a campfire! After a dark departure, Honeysuckle develops a mesmerizing seraphic dance where the notes are courting the beauties of nature. The flute and the violins weave an ambience of solitude which reminds me a ballad for solitary walker who sighs on his past while contemplating the beauties of a life that he discovers at knocks of sorrow. Very filmic, Sierra borrows the melancholy of the solitary cowboys whom Ennio Morricone liked to whisper in our waking dreams. It's an approach which glides throughout the emotions of AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING that closes the books with a more cheerful track, that could also have been able to be a part of the Italian folklore from the composer of Sacco and Vanzetti.
When the sleep is long to come and when I drained my night-discotheque of Berlin School EM on my iPod, it's towards Steve Orchard that I turn too since I discovered the very beautiful Riverboat. And AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING is, by far, better. It's a very good album where every track possesses its little something that touches. If the devil hides in detail, the beauty is just beneath it. It's Steve Orchard who made me discover this by the meditative beauty of his works which caress as much the darkness as the brightness of the tales and legends of the English folklore.
Sylvain Lupari (April 30th, 2013)
Available at AD Music