The Ring Lieder [EP]

(2017 – RING – Ireland)


I first listened to Judith’s full length CD ‘What Was’ (2014) which she says is an “overview” of her work to date, and while not typical in any category, neither minimalist, avant-garde, or classical in a strict manner, the use of all three styles are often combined to wondrous effect. A fine group of artists explore Ring’s ideas and compositions with much care. Images, moods, and atmospheres are created with virtuosity.  I was eager to hear her new EP ‘The Ring Leider’, in which the only two musicians to appear from ‘What Was’ is Kate Ellis (cello) and of course Judith Ring (voice, piano, bells). The other musicians are Adrian Hart (violin), and Lisa Dowdall (viola). Judith did the marvelous cover art for both releases.

With ‘What Was’ being experimental and more broad, the listener's soul is instantly soothed with ‘The Ring Leider’, which presents innocent almost fragile vocals, piano, and strings that caress you. On ‘The Old Train’ (track 1) I was reminded of Virginia Astley, and on all four songs,  there is much to adore for fans of The Unthanks. Totally dream-like and as gentle as a feather on a hushed wind. It needs to be noted that the compositions are inspired by, and lyrics are from poems by Roderick Ford.

‘Amber’ (track 2) is just as beautifully haunting and delicate, with more piano, strings, heavenly vocals, and outstanding use of bells. ‘The Sylph’ (track 3) retains the pure essence of The Unthanks, sparse with Judith’s vocals and piano, this brings tears. And finally ‘A Plate Of Holes’ takes this sweet emotional, simple but intoxicating recording to a sad end. Sad because this EP is far too short. It hooks you from the first note and has everyone wanting more. And you can only hope that Judith puts another similar full length out.

Judith is from Ireland and has spent 20 years writing music. She has a long list of credits and projects that range from theatre to studio. She is also a member of another group called Clang Sayne, which she joined on their second release ‘The Round Soul of the World’. This band has a similar antique and fragile quality with both Judith and the founder/leader Laura Hyland doing vocals (plus other members Carolyn Goodwin and Matthew Jacobson), exploring a melancholy majesty, toy-like at times, with inventive twists creating variations of avant folk, plaintive and haunting works. That said, ‘The Ring Leider’ is rich and simply gorgeous. MORE PLEASE! Extremely Recommended.

Reviewed by Lee Henderson  3 – 1 – 2018

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