The last album by Fern Knight (Music for Witches and Alchemists) listed eight performers in the lineup. Although the core of the band seems to number four these days, guests appear on the new offering and the texture is no less rich. The quartet comprises Margaret Wienk (the artist formerly known as Margie Wienk) whose voice and string playing is to the fore along with Jesse Sparhawk (harp & electric bass), Jim Ayre (Flying V guitar, drums & other percussion) and James Wolf (violin).
At the controls of the analogue recording equipment is Greg Weeks and he injects some admirable trademarks to the production sound? sparing Leslie speaker effects on the lead vocal, for example. There are beguiling conjunctions here too: harp, wah-wah guitar and ?cello offer rapturous support to Wienk?s vocal on Loch Na Fooey.
The songs are much inspired by nature: a journey round an Irish island and places closer to Fern Knight?s collective home on the Eastern side of the U.S. Milton?s ?Paradise Lost? provides some verse material too as Wienk and Greg Weeks trade lines in the opening of the ambitious three-part ?Magpie Suite?, which later features vocals from Orion Rigel Dommisse and Gillian Chadwick.
There?s no escaping the similarity to the first Espers album, this especially evident when ?Hawk Mountain? on the new record reminded me so readily of ?Hearts and Daggers?, which was seldom far from my turntable 4 or 5 years ago. However, that?s not to detract from the lovely sound of Fern Knight, the band and the album. 7/10 -- John Cavanagh (22 April, 2008)