There’s a fire in the wood,
And a fire in my heart,
A song in the land,
A dream in the river;
There’s a moon for every flower,
A song for every tree,
A dance for every star,
A book for every day.
I always like a good surprise release. While Leafblade did foreshadow the release of their new album, “The Goddess With Child”, the official release was something of a surprise, and I certainly had no idea it was happening. Maybe that is Facebook’s fault, though. Anyways, the album was released on March 20th, and it is a wonderful album to listen to during social distancing.
Leafblade comes from Liverpool, United Kingdom. The band consists of Sean Jude on vocals and guitars, Brian Cummins on bass and Taurus pedals, and Thomas Legg on drums, percussion, and keyboards. One interesting thing about Leafblade is that they were originally a side project of Danny Cavanagh of Anathema fame, formed specifically to help showcase Sean’s musical talent. Danny played on the band’s first two albums, but is not featured on this new album.
Personally, I have followed Leafblade since their 2013 album “The Kiss of Spirit and Flesh”. The band has always been about dark folk rock that feels poetic and otherworldly. The band continues that sound here, and you will relish the hushed tones, spiritual atmosphere, and metaphysical focus. As with Anathema, the lyrics are introspective, emotional, and existential.
One thing I’ve always noted about Leafblade is their quiet, spiritual style. I’ve spoken to the band in the past, and they are not religious, per se, but their music bears many references to many religious stories and figures, specifically the Christ. To this day, I still listen to their song “Bethlehem” (from their 2013 album) around Christmas time. But there is something deeply profound in their exploration of religious imagery, something possibly more innately natural, and I think the dark, organic, and spacious music fits it well.
The band utilizes plenty of electric guitar, but you will mostly hear acoustic and classical guitar. Because of this, I am often reminded of the elegance of bands like Renaissance. You will also hear exquisite keyboard melodies, some which rise and hover in such beautiful fashion. In those moments, I am often reminded of the band Mostly Autumn, perhaps the grandparents of modern progressive folk rock. Leafblade brings this organic, illustrious style to life in muted colors, effervescent whispers, and ancient sounds.
“The Goddess With Child” is a mysterious, ritualistic album. It sounds as old as the land around us, but somehow fresh and revitalized. The album starts well with three primarily acoustic tracks, but really gets going with the three part title suite. This multitrack song is haunting and laden with secrets. You can feel it in the glorious vocal harmonies and rising melodies, almost inviting you to come and experience the wonder of its story. It’s a fantastic song, to say the least.
The three tracks that follow the title suite feel again like folk ballads to some degree, offering easy and interesting listening. However, the band then unleashes their nine minute “A Promise in the Sleep”, which is an expanded version of the classic carol “Silent Night”. That might sound a little odd; and, believe me, I was a little thrown off when those familiar strains reached my ears. The band, though, have taken this familiar song, and turned it into something dark, fantastical, and even a little bit chilling. The song starts slowly, but releases itself into a rock vibe that sounds great. Near the end, however, the song takes on a poignant, expressive quality that will raise the hairs on your neck, and those feelings get stronger during the fearsome spoken words that end the song. I have to say that this track may end up being one of my favorites this year.
The album ends strongly, as well, “Of Giants and White Horses” is a rockier track with probably my favorite keyboards on the album. It swells with pride and grace. The final song on the album is called “A Dreamy Bohemian Watercolor”, and feels perhaps the most existential of all the songs here. In some ways, it almost feels like a ballad from Porcupine Tree at first, but soon reveals its rock edge, along with the introspective and hopeful chant “I am, I was, I will be”. Again, Anathema fans will recognize that sort of notion.
“The Goddess With Child” might be Leafblade’s finest hour yet. The album was a long time in the making, and I am thrilled with the results. There’s just something to love about the evocative, secretive, quiet tones, almost as if the music is whispering profound nothings into your ears. There is an attraction there for me in those wonderful lyrics and in the mysterious, ancient nature of the music: something in the way this album makes me feel. I know that I will continue exploring this album for some time.
Everywhere I see memory,
And the mountains in the snow
Watch me as I go.
A silence in the forest
Listens to what we are:
Ghosts, in truth, whispers,
Kings and queens.
I will be.
Find Leafblade online: