27 May 2007
In Captain Drew’s brief but astonishing career no finer band has crossed the dusty boards of the Brewer’s Pub stage than a trio of traveling minstrels what go by the name of “Three Quarter Ale“. The musical alchemy of Ariana Pellayle, Rosemary Quench and Wicked Pete Speakeasy delivers Renalicious gold, set after set, week after week, festival after festival. And once, once in a very blue moon, they produce a new album. Don’t look now, but there be a blue moon shining on a fantastic new album what be called “Intertwined”. Order the well-produced CD from CD Baby or a virtual copy from iTunes so you can put it on your rPod today!
While the rest of you lot wander around the grounds jamming turkey legges into your greasy gobs, you’re missing the finest show in town (and I’m not just talking about Ariana and Rosemary’s lovely breasty dumplings). A group of professional actor/singers could hardly begin to match the skits, the wits or the titanic singing prowess of Three Quarter Ale as you’ll find on this, their latest album.
One of Three Quarter Ale’s particular strengths is that in addition to playing traditional music, they enjoy creating original work. Fully one third of this album can be attributed to songwriter Dolph Amick, complemented by unique solo arrangements by each of the band’s members. Those songs:
“Traveling Wagon” kicks the album off with a rollicking, string-breaking verve that returns the listener to the immersive, narrative style of the group’s first album (which may be unavailable now). Rolling down a country lane in the back of a wagon, hooves a-clopping, somehow makes the music all that much better.
Track three, “Intertwined” (the title track), is a show-stopper they’ve been rolling around the stage since last year and it’s certainly worth the price of admission to hear these three performing it in such good harmony. There’s little doubt this is one song that’ll be hard to get out of your head once you’ve heard it.
“1,001 Nights” is exotic, melodic and about the best way to get the ladies’ hips a-swaying short of a Shakira album. Captain Drew highly recommends seeing this one performed live.
“The Stranger in the Pub” is a Renfest-meets-Wild-West showdown of supernatural dimensions with a rompy banjo-twanging refrain. It’s “Smoke” versus “Wicked” in a Winner-takes-All battle to the finish!
“Written in the Stars” explodes unapologetically from its soft intro into nothing less than a rock song, with Wicked Pete’s acoustic guitar being manhandled, Pete Townshend-style, pinned between the voices of Ariana and Rosemary and Rosemary’s soft, tumbling harp.
Beyond those original songs, look for great performances like “Mon Couer”, an arresting French madrigal that displays the group’s interest in musical history while demonstrating their skill and dedication as singers. Extra points to TQA for bringing traditional French music to a forum (understandably) dominated by traditional music of the British isles.
Another non-English language song of particular delight, filling out the back end of the album’s first track, is Rosemary’s boisterous launch into the song “Yidl Mitn Fidl”, a catchy Yiddish traveling song made popular in the 1930’s. Without the benefit of Google, most listeners will never realize that the lyrics of Rosemary’s Yiddish song maps so well to the musical journey of the album.
The engineering effort on this album is quite obvious and much appreciated. The “on the road” exchanges between the band’s characters throughout the album are entertaining and should easily sustain their fans until their next appearance. Of course, when you produce albums this good you’re only going to encourage your listeners to expect more of the same….
So, um, when’s the next album?