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(2019 - Wise Queen Records - UK)

Dreamy like the somewhat spooky childhood fairytale that carries your imagination off into a far away place, but a safe world. The beginning moments of 'Strangers' will give all Kate Bush fans a gulp and a shiver of glee. With echoes of '50 Words For Snow' and 'Hounds of Love' (specifically the 2nd side), the antique beauty of Rise (aka Jo Beth Young) engulfs you like a fast approaching gentle, but massive rainstorm. As the songs continue, they give off the atmosphere of the  600 year old Welsh farmhouses that Jo Beth mentions spending time in the early stages of a collection of improvised pieces, which then got slowly turned into officially composed works, where these 9 songs (50:53) were put together by a number of musicians from various countries. The album is a paradise that gives spine tingling effect and makes you feel the tiny hairs all over your body, stand on end.

Throughout the recording, one might hear flavors of Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox, and even Adele if you imagine all of them amidst a quasi-gothic atmosphere. One other comparative artist is Jan Todd in her Frostlake project. Although Todd is more well known as a composer/musician with the truly innovative Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere, Frostlake has Todd in a haunting and enchanting world as well. [see my review of Frostlake - 'Ice and Bone' 2019].  It should be noted that Jo Beth Young's first album was under the name Talitha Rise ('An Abandoned Orchid House' - 2018), which was just as lovely. The other musicians playing on 'Strangers' are : Peter Yates – Electric Guitars, Ebow, Keyboards, Radio Sounds / Jules Bangs – Bass / Matthew Rochford – Electric Guitars, eBow / Helen Ross – Violin / Ben Roberts – Cello / Ric Byer – Drums / Matt Blackie – Beats, Programmed Drums, Synths / with Cleo the Dog – Barking (track 5). Jo Beth (Rise)handles Vocals, Pianos, Guitars, Stringed Things, Arrangements.  

The material keeps a mostly dark character. Not a lot of drums, but the sparse and tasteful way every single instrument is used in the arrangements is pure perfection. The soft and melancholy feel stays gorgeous and is marked with intoxicating narrative of past and present subjects. There is absolutely zero to dislike or even find fault with. Some songs are supported with lush strings, sometimes only thick cello, ghostly violin, or swaying elongated notes that seem to cloth Young's voice. This is music that is illustrious with visions of Neverland. A musical elixir that saturates your entire being. Now exhale and enjoy that cordial bliss. RECOMMENDED.

   ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 10 - 19 - 2019
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