Image © Jude Music Ltd 2002
(28 November 2003) Isle Of Tides (Jude Music (UK) JMD 023, 2002) is the most recent release from Eden's Bridge. The Yorkshire-based band draws on Celtic roots and is certain to appeal especially to Iona enthusiasts. The compact disc is comprised of ten pieces, with the title track, an extended suite, actually being in eight individual segments. Visitors will have first read of Eden's Bridge in our review of the Songs For Luca compilation by Iona's Dave Bainbridge; that album included the song "Open Sea" which also features on Isle Of Tides as its second track.
Eden's Bridge is fronted by the voice of Sarah Lacy who also contributes piano, bohdran, guitar and church organ to the arrangements and shares writing duties with her younger brother Richard (piano, bohdran, whistles, stylophone, drums). The lineup is completed by ex-Iona drummer Terl Bryant, David Bird (guitars, basses, cittern, keyboards, theremin) and Jon Large (bass, piano, percussion). For this recording, guests include Capercaillie's Michael McGoldrick (Uilleann pipes, low whistles), Simeon Wood (flute, quena, bamboo flutes) and The St Michael Singers. The band's material has a progressive Celtic texture that compares most favourably to Iona both instrumentally and vocally. Sarah has a lovely voice, with a sound and texture reminscent of Joanne Hogg, especially in the arrangements on Isle Of Tides.
Isle Of Tides draws the listener in from the first notes played by the band in the ballad "Looking Down." Rich Celtic-influenced arrangements featuring Uillean pipes and thick bass underpin Sarah's delicately delivered vocal line. The album continues to develop atmosphere with "Open Sea," a great track with whistle complimenting Sarah's tenderly sung lead vocal. The band builds strength in the progressive instrumental arrangement combining Uillean pipe, organ, keyboards and bass in the track "Creator Of Creation." That Sarah's voice can still outpower the instrumentals is a testament to her virtuousity as well as the outstanding production quality of this album. The Uillean pipe solo within the track is just tremendous.
"Keep Me Sailing" is a lovely ballad arranged primarily with piano and it features lovely vocal harmony layers. The piano and whistle solos during the bridge perfectly compliment Sarah's emotional delivery of the lead vocal. "The Earth Waits" continues to develop the thematic texture of the album with well-blended arrangements supporting various guitar excursions and Sarah's evocative vocal. "You Carry Me," a short hymn supported primarily by organ, immediately precedes the album's epic title track.
"Isle Of Tides" is an eight part suite. It opens with the choir singing the short piece "Who Would Build An Abbey Here?" unaccompanied. Acoustic guitar accompanies Sarah in "Sail Away," another outstanding track sung tenderly with lovely vocal harmony layers. Additional instrumentals are added as the superb track develops. It blends into "From Here, Today" almost seamlessly, and then into "Adrift" and "Release" with its jig-style whistle and Uillean pipe instrumentals, in a similar manner.
The second half of the suite begins with "My Hope Is Still Save With Thee," a lovely ballad accompanied by lovely whistle melodies and then underscored by the full band, continues to allow Sarah's lead vocal to shine and soar above the arrangement. The guitar solo during the bridge is tremendous. The interplay of voice and flute in the acoustic "Still Small Voice" form a musical pathway to the building instrumental of "The Turning" and then the lush guitar-based and atmospheric "Journeys End" that concludes the suite.
The accessible upbeat melody in "Where You Search," coupled with Sarah's evocative lead vocal, lush harmony vocals and superb acoustic arrangement make it the album's standout, and a perfect compliment to the title track suite. "Thanks Be To Thee" is the final vocal number of the album. A hymn accompanied principally by piano, it also includes a lovely whistle melody within the arrangement. The album concludes with the atmospheric textures of the instrumental "Boat Song."
Isle Of Tides is certainly a dramatic and well produced album by Eden's Bridge. Sarah Lacy's vocal work is superb throughout and must be heard to be fully appreciated. Certain to appeal to enthusiasts of Iona, Joanne Hogg and Clannad, this tremendous album should be explored further.