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Monday, March 23, 2015

Tempest - The Tracks We Leave

Whenever a band has been around for 27 years, it’s a combination between the sounds of World Music, Folk, and Celtic Rock with various traditions of European medleys combined with the countries of African, Arabic, and the Middle Eastern touches thrown in. And one of the bands to carry the sounds is a group from San Francisco called Tempest.

And while this is an introduction for me into their music, I have to say that I was really impressed with their new album released this year on the Magna Carta label called, The Tracks We Leave. The title came from a proverb from the Dakota Sioux, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.”

The quote covers between the musical, spiritual and the environmental issues and Tempest have captured the essence of that. There are 10 compositions on here including a bonus track also.

And when I was listening to the new album, I could hear the elements of bands like Strawbs, Steeleye Span, Horslips, and Fairport Convention with a harder edge. There are five highlights on the album that demonstrate a joyous and dance-like beauty that Tempest displays here. Their take of poet Robert Burns traditional Scottish song of the opener, Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin is an excellent way to start things off.

Both Lief Sorbye, the founding member of the group along with and on Fiddle/Vocals Kathy Buys, go into a militant sing-along, but with an exuberant feel at times it reminding me of the Strawbs’ Part of the Union. Both Lief and Kathy pay tribute to the traditional song as if the piece could have been used in the sessions for Bursting at the Seams and it would have been a perfect fit for the album.

Fog on the Bay has thumping percussion introduction done by Adolfo Lazo followed by Lief’s flute along with the organ sounds done by Robert Berry and Fossgren’s bass line. And it makes the beat per minute go from 120 with a calm folk feel into a dynamic hard rocking sound. Kathy’s fiddle and Lief’s flute bring the melody together at the climatic end.

Tempos change on The Brown Coffin. It begins with a jazzy clean guitar introduction before the mandolin, bass, and fiddle come in and the gain guitar sound for the first minute and fifty two seconds. And then, it changes into a foot stomping, hand clapping rhythm as Fossgren does a brief but amazing bass solo that has a funk rock touch before the band increases the groove voltage for an uptempo finale.

Ganesh is a very interesting track with Tempest going into a Reggae sound as the song tells the story about the patron of the arts of the god who is the lord of beginnings, bringing good fortune along with joy, protection, and harmony. The melody however is spirited and vibrant. And I could tell that they are having a blast while have a great time on this composition written by Lief and his wife Patricia Reynolds.

September Jig is a highlight for me. I just love their improvisation on here as the band are from Celtic Folk into Jazz in the midsection. It is almost a perfect combination that Tempest is doing. And it gives Lief and the band members a chance to go into their own ideas in the instrumental piece. Buys is enjoying some amazing solo work on her instrument while Greg Jones and Josh and Adolfo Lazo do a bit of the Jazz walking line in the piece. It has this mellowing dance-line for a couple of seconds and then its back into the foot-stomping groove again before Adolfo Lazo does a drum solo for a stop-and-go moment and they close it off with a bang.

I really enjoyed listening to Tempest’s The Tracks We Leave. And after listening about five times, its an amazing yet high-spirited release this year. And even though I’m not a huge Celtic Rock fan, I do respect the genre very well. So if you are ready to have a blast with lively dance tunes set to a melodic energetic music, then get ready for the music of Tempest. You will not be disappointed.

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