On April 28th, Kent and London, England’s own Galley Beggar will be releasing “Heathen Hymns” via Rise Above Records. Galley Beggar is fixing to bring the folk rock revival, not only to the United Kingdom, but across the pond to North America as well!
Galley Beggar is composed of Paul Dadswell, David Ellis, Mat Fowler, Bill Lynn, Celine Marshall, and Maria O’Donnell. The sextet has composed a sound that is unlike anything modern I’ve heard for awhile. Take Fleetwood Mac, mix it up with Joan Baez and the acid-rock of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Trees, and you get Galley Beggar. The origins of the legend of Galley Beggar is an old English ghost that dates back to 1584 from Reginald Scot’s tome entitled “The Discovery of Witchcraft”, and it lets out a deathly scream in country roads and deserted places.
“Heathen Hymns” starts off with some intense progression that has a folk rock feel mixed with a classic rock riff ala Jimi Hendrix and King Crimson. The crooning of Maria O’Donnell and the vocal harmonies are something to behold in the track “Salome”. Their arrangements of mixing in the simplicity of folk rock, with the complexities of progressive rock with the experimentation of psychedelic rock is really something to listen to and behold with Galley Beggar. The progression and the arrangements in this song feels frightening, soothing, and peaceful all in the same breath.
“Heathen Hymns” continues with a track that has such wonderful layers to unpack in the acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and a beautiful string arrangement in “The Girl I Left Behind Me”. The parts between the aforementioned instruments are carefully interwoven with each other like a delicate tapestry that is being presented to a family that exudes royalty. Galley Beggar recruited Celia Drummond of Trees to collaborate on vocals in “The Girl I Left Behind”. I love how patient that Galley Beggar are with each note that they play and how they don’t rush through each part in the eight-minute plus opus. It is definitely a highlight for Galley Beggar.
Delicate string arrangements, a haunting drum beat, and angelic vocals by Maria O’Donnell stir up emotions and vivid imagery in “Moon and Tide”. The string arrangements pick up throughout the song as the story of the song is told. There are even classic guitar riffs ala Fleetwood Mac or a classic Comus song in the play-on word track “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”. It is plain to see why progressive rock fans and metal fans alike are embracing Galley Beggar. There is a layer of heaviness and a layer of delicacy that is such a balance that allows Galley Beggar to be embraced across multiple genres of music.
“Heathen Hymns” is getting added to my shortlist of album of the year for 2017. Galley Beggar will get new fans to embrace this sound, while getting the fans of the days of free love, daisy chains, and Woodstock to embrace them as well. Based upon the arrangements that leave a lot of layers to unravel, the soothing yet haunting voice of Maria O’Donnell, and the harmonics, this album deserves a 4.5/5 star rating with the feeling that I’m left bewildered to see how they can make this masterpiece even better! Feel the embrace and the warmth of Galley Beggar! Here is the track listing to “Heathen Hymns” below.
“Heathen Hymns” by Galley Beggar
- “Four Birds”
- “The Girl I Left Behind Me”
- “The Lake”
- “Moon and Tide”
- “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”
- “My Return”