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Release date: February 23, 2018
Running time: 44:33, 10 tracks
Tempest has just released “Thirty Little Turns”. If you are not familiar with the band from Oakland, let’s say that they are the godfathers of the Celtic rock scene in the USA. Tempest was born in 1988 and they have released 11 studio albums, 1 collection of previously unreleased tracks from 1989 to 1992, 3 live albums, 1 live DVD, 1 compilation album + 1 DVD to celebrate their 20th anniversary, a 3 CD set to celebrate their 15th anniversary and a re-recording of their best songs to celebrate their 10th anniversary. The band is led by founding members Lief Sorbye (lead vocals, mando-guitar, mandolins, flute and tin whistle) and Adolfo Lazo (drums). Their band mates on the current incarnation of the band are Kathryn Buys (fiddle, vocals), Josh Fossgreen (bass, vocals) and Ab Menon (electric guitar). Tempest has released most of their discography on the Magna Carta label and all of those albums have been produced by Robert Berry, who usually guests on keyboards. In fact, they say that Robert is an honorary band member.
Tempest blends Irish folk, Scottish Folk, English folk and rock. Lief was born in Norway, and Norwegian folk has an important role on Tempest’s sound too. Besides, Adolfo is from Cuba and some Latin influence can be noticed on some tracks. A long time ago, a friend of mine defined Tempest’s music as a cross between Jethro Tull and Thin Lizzy. And normally Tempest are labelled as a progressive band. I daresay that Tempest have taken the Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Five Hand Reel spirit and have fitted it to the 21st century.
“Thirty Little Turns” features 3 original songs, one cover of a Beatles’ song, 3 instrumentals/sets of tunes and 3 covers of traditional songs. “Thirty Little Birds” is a song about the people Tempest has met during those 30 years. All the things that can be found on a Tempest song are present on this number: a kick-ass fiddle tune, a classic folk-rock sound, backing keyboards and an addictive electric guitar passage. “A Toast” is a well-written song, maybe more English than Celtic. Curiously, IMHO, the fiddle has a classical sound at the beginning and at the end of the song. But this track is folk rock at its best. The third original is “Madeline Jones” and I find some Santana and Latin jazz influences on this track.
Tempest has decided to cover a song written by The Beatles, “Norwegian Wood”. The band is really tight, and fiddle, mandolin, drums and keyboards give a new lease of life to the song. The jig “Tripping up the Stairs” is played at the end of the song. That jig is a great tune that always work, just remember the Spirit of the West rendition on their “An Honest Gamble” song, which was later covered by The Pubcrawlers.
The first instrumental on “Thirty Little Turns” is “The Battle of Aughrim”. There is a short intro and then Tempest play a brilliant version of this traditional tune featuring some interesting flute and fiddle arrangements. The next set of tunes is tittled “Lahard Chase”: The Lahard Chase and In Walked Dalai were written by Patrick Caryannis and Harny’s Reel by Paul Meehan. Kathryn shines on fiddle and the rhythm section backs her perfectly. The third set of tunes is the closing number, “Swarb”. Swarb was Dave Swarbrick, the best British fiddler, who was a member of Fairport Convention and played together with Martin Carthy and Alistair Hullett (front man for Aussie Celtic punk legend band Roaring Jack). Needless to say that it’s one of the standout tracks on “Thirty Little Turns”.
The selection of the traditional songs is spotless: “Trollldans” is an awesome song sung by Lief in his mother tongue. “Johhny Cope” is sung with gusto by Lief and Kathryn. This song opened Planxty’s third album too and Lief is a fan of Andy Irvine. Finally, “High Germany” gets an enjoyable folk-rock treatment. Once again, Lief and Kathy share vocal duties. The tune at the end is titled “Brambleberry Reel” and was written by Kathy.
Tempest “Thirty Little Turns” is solid effort by an excellent band. Fans of Celtic rock will love it. And fans of Celtic punk that also listen to folk metal and pirate metal should also give it a try.
01 – Johnny Cope 4:07
02 – Thirty Little Birds 4:18
03 – Battle of Aughrim 2:51
04 – Trolldans 4:03
05 – Norwegian Wood 3:56
06 – Lahard Chase 3:52
07 – A Toast 4:36
08 – High Germany 4:52
09 – Madeline Jones 4:28
10 – Swarb 7:09
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