"Possessing a voice as sweet as a newly picked autumn apple and
a beautiful finger-picking style to match, Pamela Wyn Shannon has created
a faultless slice of folk magic that reveals new layers and textures with
every listen...The more I listen to the album, the more I come to realise
that it is this attention to detail that makes the album such a rewarding
listen, the many layers of sound augmenting the songs with rare beauty,
each song a flawless part of an impeccable whole...the magical Pipkin,
one of the finest folk songs you will ever have the privilege to hear...a
truly vintage album that all Terrascope readers should own."
REVIEWS IN FULL:
The production is intimate yet wonderfully atmospheric, and the album
possesses a striking aural unity despite it being recorded in odd
nooks and crannies at a variety of pastoral locations. The simple,
homespun nature of the lovingly-assembled hand-crafted packaging is also
most attractive. All told, this is a very special, seriously beautiful
album, which also has the measure (though not the more undesirable pretensions)
of a personal artistic statement: one of considerable power, originality
and vision. Serendipitys a wonderful thing, and alls well
with the world after all
The greatest assets of Courting Autumn are the intricate arrangements. Shannon alone contributes guitar, banjo, harmonium, dulcimer, and glockenspiel, while a wide array of guests add strings, sitar, clarinet, penny whistle, and recorder. Led by the guitar, the other instruments blend together beautifully, particularly on the track Vespertine Autumn. Here, the guitar combines with violin, glockenspiel, penny whistle, and clarinet to create a rich and moving piece of music.
Lyrically, the album is quite old fashioned. Its syntax, diction, and content seem taken from another time, as evidenced by songs like O Bittersweet Dear Madeline and Tis Rambletide in Ambleside. Really, it sounds like Elizabethan-era poetry set to music. In addition to these old-timey sentiments, there is a constant emphasis on all things natural and pastoral.
It should not be overlooked that Pamela Wyn Shannon is an extremely talented
music maker. There is plenty to appreciate on Courting Autumn,
the excellent musicianship and arrangements on the album are worthy of
Pamela Wyn Shannon : Courting Autumn (US,2007)*****
The album was mixed in Philadelphia by Brian McTear (Espers, Mazarin, Marissa Nadler, Danielson). Additional arrangements and contributions were done by Anna Patton (clarinet, penny whistle on 10), Bill Shontz (recorders on 1,6,8 and recorder arrangements on 1, 6, 8), Chris Hale (sitar on 5), Ethan Hazard-Watkins (violin on 10), Liz Knowles (violin, viola, cello on 2, 7, 12 and string arrangements on 2), Michael Kinney (cello on 3,4,6), and Stephen Katz (cello on 9), Gisele Zeitler (production support).
Pamela Wyn Shannons voice moves me, more than on her already very
nice debut, the (folk-chamber-like) arrangements are marvelous, and her
songs are something like capable of healing wounds of bleeding hearts,
with the power of nature and literature behind her. Also her fundaments
with guitars are delicate and descriptive Cathe Yowes,
"Cold Blows the wind",...). For me the album for a change stretched
time for the experience : it was as if I listened attentively for hours.
The last track is a spoken word piece with a cello arrangement and some
textures. A big surprise, and an absolutely recommended masterpiece."
TERRASCOPE, REVIEW BY SIMON LEWIS
Augmented with delicate recorder and whispered strings, the songs have an aching presence that brings to mind the work of Nick Drake, fragile and sublime in their brilliance. Opening track O Bittersweet, Dear Madeline draws the listener in immediately, the wistful lyrics perfectly matched by the arrangements. Second Track Tis Rambletide In Ambleside, sees the strings float through the melody, gently wrapping the song in delicious harmony, weaving around the guitar and voice with total unity of purpose.
Recorded in various locations in New England, including museums, barns, tool sheds, and a sheep farm, the album possesses a pastoral feel throughout, the production by Brian McTear (Vespers, Marissa Nadler), breathing life into the songs, bright and fresh as morning light.
On the title track, twinkling glockenspiel adds light to the song, whilst on Woolgathering the soft cello of Michelle Kinney brings to mind the work of Robert Kirby. The more I listen to the album, the more I come to realise that it is this attention to detail that makes the album such a rewarding listen, the many layers of sound augmenting the simple songs with rare beauty, each song a flawless part of an impeccable whole. Such details include the understated cello on Ca the Yowes, or the recording of a spinning wheel on the aforementioned Woolgathering.
As well as the music, the lyrics also offer a unifying theme, the turning of the seasons evoked wonderfully on such songs as Septembers Way or Michaelmastide. At the end of the day, however, it is the voice and guitar that stand centre stage, or maybe in the centre of the sacred grove, the other instruments dancing across the ground, whilst the words paint pictures in the sky, no more so than on the magical Pipkin, one of the finest folk songs you will ever have the privilege to hear.
Although there is a early seventies UK folk feel to the whole album, this is particularly noticeable on Vespertine Autumn. Of course, this might just be lazy reviewing on my part, as songs this good are timeless in their appeal, belonging to no particular period, a trick also played by Sharron Kraus, whose work could also be used as a comparison.
Final song Fare-Thee-Forlorn features droning strings and
spoken word, and is a melancholy delight, sending shivers up the spine,
a transcendent way to complete a truly vintage album that all Terrascope
readers should own."
The disc opens with lightly strummed acoustic guitar and a low airy flute, drawing into the song "O Bittersweet Dear Madeline." Singing a lifting, lolling melody that weaves in and out of her handpicked guitar lines, Shannon's voice is yearning and soft. Her lyrics sound as if they are plucked from another age and help transport the listener to a feathery, mystical realm: "O bittersweet dear Madeline, the bed straw is tangled in your hair / He flutters over your bright mouth, as you gently pull him to your lair." Some of her songs delve further into the spooky, otherworldly qualities she conjures. "Netherworld," for example, builds from beautiful, ominous guitar into a haunting, echoing refrain bolstered by swooping cello.
In addition to her original compositions, Shannon includes two traditional tunes that fit in as naturally as rain. Her rendition of the British folk ballad "Cold Blows the Wind" is especially affecting, with its light, chiming guitar lines spinning webs of feeling and regret behind the age-old tale of love lost and mourned. Whether she's tackling traditional tunes or her own originals, Shannon's music retains a constant, unifying vision. It speaks of a natural, free world, unfettered by the heavy constraints of the modern age, a beautiful place to be."
Rambles Cultural Arts On-line Magazinehttp://www.rambles.net/shannon_natures01.html
Pamela's CD, "Nature's Bride" was nominated the number one Album of the Villiage Voice Pazz & Jop 2002 http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/pazznjop/02/critic.php?criticid=2029
If you read Polish vist Polish review from Folkowa:
"Shannon's Celtic-influenced folk displays that rare and sublime
mix of virtuosity and brevity. She's seemingly capable of anything: emotive,
bravura vocals without flash; acrobatic guitar without bombast; and fluent
inflections of soul, rock, Arabic, and Indian themes that are never overdone.
You'll wonder where this brilliant new artist has been all your life.
Rating: **** " -
"On Pamela Wyn Shannon's landmark debut disk the sinuousness
of Middle Eastern music, the urgency and intricacy of Spanish guitar,
the drama of South Asian song, the syncopation of soul and the energy
of rock are channeled into a wellspring of Celtic culture for an entirely
fresh stream of musical possibilities. Shannon's imaginative musicianship
is full of tricky spiraling guitar figures and a rich spectrum of tonal
nuance invisible to the naked ear of many singer-songwriters. Her voice
is an instrument of angelic range shaded with the scope of earthly joy
and yearning. Shannon and her virtuosic band are astute in all the worlds
they craft for these songs to inhabit. "Just Shy of Rising Tide"
is set into oceanic passages of Irish flute and fiddle which swell and
recede to leave Shannon's solitary guitar and melancholy tale, alone but
unconsumed. "New Language", a moving duet with otherworldly
Bengali vocalist Sanghamitra Chatterjee about the unconquerable feminine
spirit, adapts abbreviated Indian classical structure to Shannon's own
troubadour traditions with remarkable fidelity, for an impressive achievement
of grandeur without bombast. That balance is echoed in Shannon's penchant
for nature imagery, which is expressed without facile sentiment or shamanic
pretensions but a quiet, infectious wonder. And this humble profundity
well serves ballads of rebirth such as "World in My Arms" and
"Song of Slow Emerging", which don't glaze over the trauma of
recent events but push up through them indomitably. This important artists
first statement counts among the most blessed of new beginnings."
Pamela Wyn Shannon: Nature's Bride
Girlhenge Records Pamela Wyn Shannon : Nature's Bride
Dutch version of this review / Nederlandse versie :
Pamela heeft duidelijk interesse voor de magisch feëerieke met de
natuur verbonden werelden, voor bomen (in de illustraties wordt de eik
of het eikeblad meermaals gebruikt), zonder dat ik een direkte link met
bijvoorbeeld paganisme zie. Het digipack is prachtig en esthetisch verzorgd,
bevat ook mooi geslaagde foto's van haarzelf met een hoed en kleren gemaakt
van mos. Het doet ook allemaal denken aan een verwijzing naar momenten
van magie in Englese acid folk muziek. Maar haar muziek heeft geen fragiliteit
of heeft niet dat etherische. Ik hoor ergens een onderliggende, maar wel
spontaan gevormde expressie van een volwassen vorm van gelukkigheid, dat
eerder van het terrein van een singer-songwriter komt, terwijl de folk
elementen voornamelijk van de begeleiding komen. De acoestische gitaar
klinkt mooi, wanneer ze ooit eens meer op de voorgrond treedt, (zoals
in de intro van het mooi "Orlando", gebaseerd op Virginia Woolf's
boek, of in het meer melancholisch romantische "Once Again too soon",
of in de song met guitar / contrabas / stem, "Twig"). Haar stem
klinkt modern, helder en tegelijkertijd gevoelig. De arrangementen (sommige
met een klein kamerorkest) zijn passend (met mooie strijkarrangementen
door Liz Knowles in "The Trees"). Meestal is het een mix van
folk-en klassiek geïnspireerde arrangementen. Buiten literatuur en
de natuur was ook Robin Williamson (Incredible Stringband) een inspiratie.
Danny Thompson zou hier perfect bij geklonken hebben -en dat was bijna
gebeurd, moest zijn schema het toegelaten hebben-. Ook Sanghamitra Chaterjee
lijkt haar invloed te hebben, een Bengaalse vrouw die Pamela's guru wordt
genoemd, en die een mooie tweede stem arrangeerde en een klein Bengali
strofe inzong op "Another Language". "As I roved out"
is de enige up tempo song, met folkrock arrangementen. Alle (fantastische)
songs waren door Pamela zelf geschreven, behalve de laatste song, van
Nick Drake. Dit werd zorgvuldig gearrangeerd door Mike Fitzgerald, met
enkele hoorns ?, drums en piano. Een geslaagde versie.
Also our singer-songwriter radioshow producer Lawrence Woolfe liked this album and reviewed it :
"At a time when pessimism for the future is almost all persuasive
along comes Pamela Wyn Shannon, an American with Irish roots, singing
"I've got the world in my arms", on the opening track of her
CD "Nature's Bride" If only ..? Well, the world would certainly
know much more hope and optimism and a sense of harmony with nature. World
in my arms opens with a fine chordal acoustic guitar rif. Rhythmically
upbeat, it has an assured confident uplifting lyric and a fine musical
"An album which both lyrically and musically exudes an unaffected
optimism; it is characterised by a lightness of touch, despite complex
and cleverly written arrangements. The musicianship is top draw
Pamelas guitar playing, especially, is immense. World in my Arms
The first track with its brightness and hopefulness, is emblematic
of the album as a whole. An endearing tune and with a portentous last
verse: Damn to the song born out of plight Much more satisfying
is One born out of delight! Damn to the hollow chamber where I lingered
lonely in the nigh And the pages of sad poetry That only the sad can write
The songs on the album suggest that the chamber has been left far behind!
Song of Slow Emerging A skilfully played guitar dominates this track,
together with a beautiful traditional arrangement of flute and violin
Tree Song The strong attachment to and setting of the self in
the natural world is celebrated here. One wonders if the lyrics owe anything
to the more enigmatic work of Robert Graves. Orlando These lyrics have
an an acknowledged source partly inspired by Virginia Woolfs
Orlando and speak of renouncing worldly love in favour
of the sensuality provided by nature (The albums title is taken
form the song lyric). Another tremendous string arrangement. Just Shy
of Rising For me, the song of the album: magically mysterious lyrical
allusions to the fire eater, the gypsy and the
dare-devil and hosting a variety of musical forms and textures,
amalgamating Celtic, progressive rock, together with hints of Nick Drake
and early Van Morrison. The lyrical phrasing is quite brilliant and creates
and diffuses tensions almost from line to line. A superb track. Childs
Eyes Hints of bluegrass here. Light and hypnotic (great drumming by Andy
Demos), with numerous sections each appropriately and sympathetically
arranged holding together well. Lyrically (dedicated to a specific
group of school children) a reminder that the childs enjoyment of
the earths future is contingent upon our stewardship of the earth
in the present. Once Again Too Soon Again, outstanding guitar virtuosity
on this track a beautiful waltz lingering on the (tendency)
to perhaps prematurely give of oneself to another. New Language The performance
reminded me of Buffy Saint-Marie, due maybe to the use of so-called ethnic
instrumentation and the evocative backing vocals of Sanghamitra Chatterjee.
A song that broadcasts the re-emergence of an ancient tongue. Twig This
has the feel of a traditional English song. Once more, the lyrics rest
on the placement of the human in a natural setting, but also allay human
sensuality with that emerging from wider nature itself. As I Roved Out
As the title suggests, the song (although an original) leans towards the
folk-rock arrangements of traditional material, particularly from bands
in the 1970s. There is a near- psychedelic twist here, however, supplied
mainly by some inspired frenzied violin playing, while the vocal has a
blues-soul element to it. I Was Made to Love Magic A cover of the Nick
Drake song. The prominent brass arrangement is highly minimalistic, helping
to bring forth the songs beauty. All in all, an album that greatly
pleases the ears and can bear multiple listens. Incidentally, it is also
thoughtfully and creatively packaged with ample information on the musicians
playing on each track and full lyric listings."
Pamela Wyn Shannon " Nature's bride"
"...She is a terrific stage performer, fine writer and excellent guitarist with a wide passionate vocal range. Put it all together and you have an exciting unfettered sound." - Evening Echo (Ireland)
"...Sit up close and watch the fingering of Pamela [Wyn Shannon] as she plays her guitar. Quick, intricate, barely discernible position changes, long elegant fingers, a tiny chamber orchestra working in unison at the end of her hands...Hear the lyrics and melodies, which sweep you along, bouncy, hypnotic, or seep into your skin, moody and introspective, fragile notes evaporating like dew in the morning sun..." - The Hudson Reporter
"[Pamela's] debut as a solo performer is an inspiring blend of styles...the title tune is a dynamic, danceable tour de force...[Pamela's] inflections recall the power and emotional intensity of Buffy Ste. Marie..." Dirty Linen
"...Meteoric Meanderings is a stunning solo debut... [Pamela] whips violin, banjo and muscular rhythm into mesmerizing Celtic whirl...[Pamela's] primal folk rhythms stir the heart as her earthly poetry dazzles the inner eye..." - The Musician's Exchange
"...Metaphysical and mystical without the trappings of orthodox religious experience, Meteoric Meanderings is a personal journey, spiritual and intimate without apology...wonderfully crafted and musically reminiscent of efforts rooted in the English folk-rock tradition, bringing to mind Fairport Convention and Van Morrison. Most striking are [Pamela's] lyrics. Her images are evocative and poetic, betraying a personal life in the spirit, well thought-out, familier and friendly..." - Aquarian Weekly
"...[Pamela] belts out her Celtic influenced tunes in a lean, clear, sustained voice, and accompanies herself with some excellent guitar picking..." - Daily Hampshire Gazette
"...A most captivating songwriter, not to mention one mama of a vocalist!" - Jersey Beat
"...I've only seen her solo or with sizzling violinist Gerry O'Hare, and boy do those two burn. Listen especially to "World in My Arms," and I guarantee it won't leave you for days... I can't tolerate going months without hearing her. Go see her. Gush unashamedly. You won't be alone!" - Hudson Current
"...[Pamela] weaves beautiful, meaningful, intricate tapestries with roots and rhyme...[Pamela] is inspired, possibly possessed by a Celtic Goddess who likes to play word-games and unusual instruments...Meteoric Meanderings is worth figuring out, worth an investment of time and energy...Thank you Pamela for sharing your soul so eloquently, so entertainingly..." - Aquarian Weekly
"[Pamela] is the embodiment of charisma, with her stylish dress, statuesque frame, dry wit, and music that creates its own time frame, rules and kingdoms. There's an elliptical quality to her Celtic-influenced compositions, intricate guitar runs, pauses, repetition, a hypnotic aura that makes you want to close your eyes and sway. I've said this before, but she has more incredible unrecorded material that any artist I know. Her music creates a subtle energy through a voice that soothes and shouts." - Hoboken Reporter