(14 October 2012) Another Country is the twelve-track 2012 album by Britain's Mermaid Kiss. Their fourth release is the result of the artists' five year American Images project. It follows the artists on an imaginary journey from picturesque Boston to the bright lights of New York, down via the Appalachian Mountains where time stands still, and on to the steamy South. In their imaginary journey, they drive through the America of films and of music; an America uncorrupted by reality. The songwriters actually have not yet visited America.
In the spirit of offering something new and unexpected on each album, Another Country departs from earlier Mermaid Kiss outings in several dimensions. First, still fronted by Evelyn Downing, the music is clearly planted in singer/songwriter territory without reference really to any other genre. Sadly, the album also celebrates Eveyln Downing maturing in her professional career and her own life and is therefore the last Mermaid Kiss album she will front.
The album is the first digital only release by the band. There will be no physical product. Consequently the artists have gone to great length to full illustrate it online. Visit the Another Country webspace to navigate the album's story and images. The album is the first to feature a photograph selected from submissions by Mermaid Kiss enthusiasts. The cover image was supplied by Rachel Schroeder who also provided lyrics for the track "The Scissored Ground."
The album is the first to include work from a variety of guests, many that have toured with Mermaid Kiss during the years they did so. The lineup includes: Evelyn Downing (vocals, harmony vocals, flute); Wendy Marks (flute, cor anglais, oboe, recorder, harmony vocals); Jamie Field (acoustic guitar); Pete West (acoustic, electric, bass guitars and harmony vocals); Colin Henney (keyboards); and Steve White (drums).
The album was recorded, engineered and produced by Evelyn Downing with additional recording by Steve Redfearn at Rockhopper Studios. It was mixed by Evelyn Downing and Andrew Garman at The Goat Shed. Aside from the one track mentioned above, and "Interludes for Cor Anglais and Piano" by Wendy Marks and Colin Henney, all words and music are by the longtime writing team of Jamie Field and Evelyn Downing.
Another Country launches with the brief scene-setting, keyboard-washed and Americana-styled song "Frontier." Mermaid Kiss selected their single "Circles of Fire" as the first of the album's longer tracks. The most gentle of arrangements back Evelyn's crystalline vocal delivery. Listen for non-obtrustivve guitar, flute and keyboard excursions that break through strategically.
In "Dust Bowl Bride" light percussion works alongside acoustic guitar to provide a thematic backdrop to Evelyn's evocative and powerful vocal delivery. The flute provides a haunting Celtic break between vocal passages and harmony vocals create great texture in the chorus. Voice shines through gentle acoustic guitar as the story of "Rhonda and the Paper Crane" opens. Bass and further arrangements underscore Evelyn's bright lyrical delivery. Harmony vocals contribute texture to the mood as the song plays out. Listen for the tremendous acoustic guitar solo.
"L.A. Aria" is one of the album's standout tracks. Here and the very best illlustration of the singer's range, Evelyn's powerful lead vocal glides atop layered harmonies only initially and then keyboards in the ballad's stunning introduction. Listen for the transitional segment led by Wendy Marks' oboe mid-song and great keyboard work within the rich arrangements. Evelyn's power is also evident in "The Scissored Ground." The flute and electric guitar solos within the song are an oustanding contrast.
"Ghost Rider" is also one of Another Country's standout tracks. The arrangements of upbeat track combines guitar, recorder and strings. Listen for the especially well placed recorder solos. The lyrics and melody of this radio-friendly pop number actually have a great hook. The mysterious down-tempo sound of "Trail of Tears" perfectly suits the intense lyrical message delivered in Eveyln's layered vocal passages. Wrenched with emotion, the piano-based ballad "Comes and Goes" brings the sung portion of Another Country to a conclusion. Listen for the especially well-delivered mid-song oboe solo.
There are also three lovely instrumental interludes, two of which two serve as segues between the album's movements. The third features a warm Americana-styled melody that concludes the album. The three numbers were all written by and feature the musicianship of Wendy Marks on Cor Anglais and Colin Henny on piano.
While many of us will miss new recordings by Evelyn Downing with Mermaid Kiss, she has music talent and a voice that will not be denied, so we remain hopeful that she will return to music someday. We are pleased to report that Mermaid Kiss will continue on. New vocalist Maria Milewska is onboard and the recording of the next album is already well underway. Jamie is involved in yet another female vocalist project which should bear fruit in the next year. Wish the artists luck in their future endeavors and return here often for more news on Evelyn, Jamie and Mermaid Kiss. Another Country will be available from CDBaby and other online sources. Bravo!