The Gabriel Hounds

Heather Dale

Amphisbaena Music , 2008

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Guess what? 21 years later (and I’m so damned old), I still love Heather Dale.

It’s been a while since I visited the demesne of the Canadian songstress, and since then she’s been putting out CDs on a more-or-less regular basis. Her voice is still warmed honey, smooth and expressive, and she continues to perform music that straddles a fine line between traditional and her own takes on myth, legend, and mystery.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

She’s up to 19 CDs (and yes, I’m going to work on that back catalog). She continues to weave old tales with new instrumentation; electric guitar and synthesizer fit right next to Celtic fiddle and bodhran. In short, she continues to be who she is, a firm resident in the neighborhood first populated by Loreena McKennitt, Sinead O’Connor and Kate Bush.

Would more artists had the courage.

Gabriel Hounds, from 2008, is her typical wild variation of themes. She dips into the realm of Faerie (“Changeling Child,” which is a perfect example of Why Faeries Aren’t Nice Little Balls Of Sunshine With Wings); Norse mythology (the primal “Odin’s Other Eye”); the bitter fruit of America’s treatment of its natives (“Trail Of Tears”); and an endless cycle of destruction (“Mountain”). She dips into country to weave a tale of life and death (“Into Town”).

The highlight, though, is the insistent, haunting, driving “Joan”—a song sung from the viewpoint of Jeanne d’Arc, laced with anger and purpose, telling the story of a woman driving and driven. When Dale sings “I will burn with a light of my own / They’ll know me as Joan…” I shudder. It’s a magnificent example of song as foreshadowing, a piercing reminder of the fate that eventually befell the Maid of Orleans.

The growth of independent music in the 21st century has resulted in music that would once be considered niche reaching a wider audience. If you want to take a walk in the neighborhood mentioned above, you really need to check out the work of Heather Dale. Listen to Gabriel Hounds today.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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