Every now and then an artist appears on your radar from nowhere and blows you out of the water – and you don’t mind a single bit! Jordan Reyne did this to me when I first heard her new album “How the Dead Live” as Jordan weaves a bold tapestry of folk olde age guitar tracks mixed with all kinds of ambient clunks and mechanical noises.
“From Gravesend” sets the mood with minimal guitar and a doubled vocal in different keys thicken the mood like molases. The track is completely underscored with ambience from outside in the woods and industrial murmurs and swishes. It’s almost like you’re listening to the music take place in a foundary. The noises are present throughout the album and really give the music a more sinister tone.
“The MichaelAngelo” seems to take on a sea ambience as Jordan’s beautiful voice continues to provide a soundscape of layered vocals, which are very pretty in this track. Jordan doesn’t need to shout and scream to make her presence felt. The control in her voice has a certain force behind it that just makes you sit up and listen.
The tracks effortless transition from one to another through the background noise and “The Witness (murder)” is more dramatic and darker. Shakles and more violent mechical crunches punctuate the track as Reyne flexes her vocals chanting “murderer”. All the while the simple but very effective guitar work holds the tracks together.
“The Brave” is decidedly eerie. The dual vocal sounds like a prophetic medium reading the riot act. Here is the first time real percussion is used in an understated marching beat that along with all the dripping ambience in the background just notches the creepy dark folk meter up to 10. Effortlessly leading into “The Dead” things turn more into Nina Nastasia than before with some keyboard trickery hiding in the background behind the acoustics and echoing metal clashes leaving their marks behind.
About as close to a single as the album gets, “The Proximity of Death (Blue Eyed Boy)” is an absolutely stonking track. Jordan’s vocals are the most fierce here and show’s just how diverse she can be. The acoustics, the industrial ambience and the percussion with keyboards all fit seemlessly together into a killer tune. This track also has some fantastic lyrics. The lyrics are great throughout but I just love the way how the whole song describes distances between different people and emotions.
“Ghosts (lest we forget)” is set to the backdrop of rain and thunder which fills the speakers right up as a beautifully dark ballad envelopes you. The delicate nature of the song against rolls of thunder is genius and Jordan’s vocals are very sweet when they soar up high. As the thunder and rain falls away “Blood” spurts into life and the industrial noises sound to me like the rush of veins pumping blood round your body. This track is actually one of the most easily accessible with a strong melody and a beautiful string arrangement underscoring the whole event. The closing track “Remembering the Dead” is a swirling ambience where Jordan appears almost to freefall vocals around the two chords. The song eventually raises up to a funeral march beat as if the album is being laid to rest with a final salute.
“How the Dead Live” is phenominal. The holds such a special atmosphere from start to finish that you feel like you’re being let into dark folk’s best secret yet – in the middle of the witching hour! An absolute contender for my top 10 albums in 2010, Jordan Reyne is a masterful ruler of Dark Folk.