Released on cd by Cambrian Records and Limited Edition LP by Feeding Tube Records. Artwork by Bill Crisafi.
“I Put A Spell on You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins proclaimed, but he was just fronting compared to Rusalnaia. Gillian Chadwick and Sharron Kraus launch this album with a genuine incantation, chanting words that will bring a lover close but not too close. But after you get past the moons on the record sleeve and the spell within, these witches express disarmingly ordinary concerns. They sing about love and separation, addressing the universal travails of romance but also the circumstances that put nine years between Time Takes Away and its predecessor; lines like “A thousand miles lie between the cruel time of our parting” are freighted with personal meaning when you consider that currently Chadwick lives in Philadelphia PA and Kraus in Sheffield UK.
The necessity to fly back and forth means that the LP was recorded in 2011 in Wales, mixed three years later in London, was released on CD by Cambrian Records in 2016 and on LP by Feeding Tube in 2017. But while the passage of time became the album’s theme, it seems not to have hurt it. The performances feel immediate, the arrangements neither threadbare nor overdone. The duo’s vocal chemistry is fluid, shifting between close harmony and intricately woven counterpoint. Electric guitars and a drum kit add a muscularity that differentiates record from its eponymous predecessor, which is mostly acoustic.
The songs themselves make it hard to stuff this record into any temporal cubbyhole. The briskly paced “Driving” splits the difference between Fairport Convention in 1968 and Can in 1970, but other songs contain sonic artifacts that span decades. Kraus’s recorder invests “Take Me Back” with an air of antiquity, but the boxed-in drum sounds on “The Love I Want” and “Bright Things” signal that this record was probably recorded and mixed using computers. And the lyrics shuttle between the age of dragons and the age of motorways as though there was nothing keeping them apart.
Bill Meyer, Dusted
released March 4, 2022
Sharron Kraus: Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, recorders, autoharp, fiddle wails
Gillian Chadwick: Vocals, electric guitars
Mark Wilden: Drums
Ivor Davies, Moni Sheehan: Backing vocals on 'Cast A Spell'
Recorded by Michael Tanner and Sharron Kraus at the Old Vicarage, Ysbyty Cynfyn.
Mixed by Mark Wilden at Concourse Audio.
Mastered by Antony Ryan.
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