Continuing a trend that has developed of releasing an album every two years, 2023 sees the release of St. Ives based proggers The Emerald Dawn‘s fifth album, In Time. Still consisting of the now stable line up of Tree Stewart on keyboards, flute and vocals, Ally Carter on guitar, saxophone and keyboards, Tom Jackson on drums and Dave Greenaway who joined ahead of 2019’s Nocturne on bass. In Time has been written around the concept of time and continues the development towards a more rounded contemporary progressive rock soundscape. My introduction to the band was via their previous release To Touch The Sky (2021 and issued on vinyl in 2022 via Plane Groovy) which jettisoned many of the more Symphonic tendencies and introduced some freer jazzy sections within its three tracks. Now those elements have all merged making In Time a much more cohesive and rounded proposition and all the better for it.
The Emerald Dawn have rarely been ones to use lengthy and complex lyrical content to get their messages across to the audience and on In Time they use the rhythm of the repeated lines to very effectively place an addition level on top of the already lush layers provided by this group of highly talented musicians. Opener ‘Out Of Time’ is a five movement suite of which the opening section, ‘A Moment In Time’ has been effectively lifted from the twenty three minute track to be issued as a stand alone single and video. This opening section finds The Emerald Dawn at their most lyrical making it an ideal showcase for the bands talents and Tree’s beautiful vocals. Souring guitar, exquisite piano and Stewart’s delicately angelic voice set the mood and places the vibe just on the right side of folk rock as the movements progress gaining intensity with each passing section. The interplay between Stewart, Greenaway and Jackson provide the perfect framework on which to hang Carter’s rich guitar melodies. By the time we hit the half way mark of this opening epic the pipes and drums have taken up residence which take your thoughts to the middle east as the track dances and spins through more twists and turns before it heads back to where it began with the closing passage ‘A Moment In Time Recalled’.
With its focus on Janus the Roman God of beginnings, endings and time ‘Timeless’ moves Carter’s saxophone front and centre giving it slight jazz overtones before the choppy bass and keyboards develop the mood into a more characterful twenty first century progressive direction featuring a more sinister vocal and the arrival of flute adding a complimentary classical counterpoint. This group have a masterful way of taking a song on an adventure but always returning to whence it came and this is displayed well on ‘Timeless’ with the tracks frantic saxophone conclusion. This is an ability which suits the concept of this releases really well. An appropriate drum beat takes over as ‘The March Of Time’ metronomically enters but shifting quickly into its more subtle eastern flavours. The shortest track at just over eight minutes this shows best how the band use word craft to add to the instrumentation as the songs only line “As time goes marching on” is repeated continuously throughout the closing section and into the fade out. Dramatic, powerful and with more twists and turns than your average TV soap, that just about sums up In Time.
Both a standard and extended version of the ‘A Moment In Time’ single were released on September 1st 2023 ahead of In Times release later that month (vinyl will be available November 2023 via new label Wild Thyme Records, the labels first vinyl release). The Emerald dawn have been making major ripples in the Progverse since their last studio album and have put in impressive appearances at Prog For Peart, Danfest, Summer’s End, A New Day and many other high profile events over the year. From the evidence here this live work has added to their toolbox during the making of In Time and has helped to make this their most accessible release to date. With bands like Solstice, Karnataka and The Far Meadow seeing something of a renaissance in recent times here’s hoping that this progression continues so that The Emerald Dawn can place themselves at the head of the pack. My “time” is up but I’m sure The Emerald Dawn have plenty more.
- Reviewed By Peter Brockwell.
- In Time is released via World’s End Records on 23rd September 2023.
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1. Out Of Tim
i) A Moment In Time
ii) Temporal Disruption
iii) Ouroboros Affronted
iv) Temporal Reconciliation
v) A Moment In Time Recalled
3. The March Of Time