The Emerald Dawn was originally formed in Edinburgh, Scotland by Tree Stewart (keyboards, piano, flute, acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocals) and Ally Carter (electric and acoustic guitars, guitar synthesizer, tenor and soprano saxophones, keyboards, and vocals), before moving to South West England, where they were joined by jazz drummer Tom Jackson and then by bassist Jayjay Quick (fretless and fretted bass guitars, electric upright bass, electric violin, and cello). The Emerald Dawn’s first album, entitled ‘Searching for the Lost Key’, was released in 2014 and they are now returning with the follow-up, ‘Visions’.
As is often the case, I was contacted directly by the band to see if I would be able to review the album, to which I of course agreed as I am always looking for “new” (at least to me) bands to be able to write about. I was intrigued before I even started listening to it, as there are only four songs, and the first of these is twenty minutes long! For most of the time their style of prog is reflective, and long instrumental passages are interspersed with some good vocals, and wonderfully warm fretless bass, and sometimes it makes me think of an incredibly laid-back Legend. However, my impression is that this was self-recorded, and I do think that an outside influence would have allowed the band to have made some better composition and arrangement decision.
For example, that Ally is a powerful and striking electric guitarist is never in doubt, yet this isn’t used nearly enough, although it is always dynamic and refreshing when it makes an appearance. Another example is that there are some keyboard sounds being used as a fanfare within the opening “Musique Noire” and in my opinion they just don’t work, and repeating them doesn’t make it any better. What this meant was just a few minutes into the album and I was already distracted, feeling that this wasn’t going to be the sort of album I expected it to be. There is also a level of simplicity in some passages that detracts from the overall effect, while the use of saxophone isn’t always what I expected it to be.
That the guys can play is never in doubt, and I understand that this is always going to be down to personal taste. A friend of mine, whose reviews I always enjoy reading, has just given this the maximum 5 *’s on ProgArchives, so we are obviously hearing this album very differently indeed, but this isn’t something to which I will soon be returning. Why not go over to Bandcamp and give them a listen yourself, and see if you agree or not? Both of their albums can be found at https://theemeralddawn.bandcamp.com