The Road To Santiago

Heather Dale

Amphisbaena Music, 2005

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Longtime readers of the Daily Vault know I love Heather Dale, plain and simple. Her May Queen was a past album of the year of mine. So it was with much anticipation that I waited for The Road To Santiago, her first 'mainstream' recording. (I use that term loosely. In reality, Santiago is merely her first CD that hasn't relied exclusively on Arthurian themes.)

I'm happy to say I am not in any way disappointed. The Road To Santiago is a magnificent CD, a wonder to listen to, and one of the best CDs I've heard this year.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's very hard to find fault with Dale's voice, for starters. She has an elegant, magnificent voice, rich and heady like a good port wine. She can alternately soar and dive, turn and wheel; her voice is like a raptor in flight, and it's a magnificent thing to listen to.

The production on Santiago is excellent as well, the musicianship is just fine, and there's very little -- if anything -- to complain about. As for the songs -- well, I love all but one. The CD opens with the elegant and spare "Hero," Dale's vocals sending shivers up and down my spine. "The Greyhound" and "Flowers Of Bermuda" are wonderful, though tragic sea shanteys, and Dale's voice goes perfectly with the stories of heroism and loss. "Hunter" is a breathtakingly beautiful song about love, loss, and return. "Black Fox" is a morality caution to be careful what you ask for; you might get it, and it might smell like brimstone. "Adrift" has wonderful piano in counterpoint to Dale's vocals. If there's a track that falls short, it's "Up In The Pear Tree" I admit to having no real fondness for the style of song (sort of a 'folly of married men' madrigal bouncy thing), and I think that may affect my judgement.

Where The Road To Santiago really pays off is on "Medusa" and "Sedna." "Medusa" takes the Greek myth and turns it into a powerful, vicious statement on standards of beauty; when Dale snarls "Damn them all!" it's like being thrown into ice water. "Sedna" is a hymn to the Inuit creator goddess, and it's a thing of pure beauty. As individual tracks they're magnificent; taken in counterpoint, Dale proves herself a master of comparing the dark to the light in all things.

The Road To Santiago continues the career of te person I consider to be the best female vocalist currently recording. You owe it to yourself to pick this up. Help spread the word.

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Rating: A

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