WHILE ANGELS WATCH - Dark Age - CD - 11 tracks - Cynfeirdd - 2002

It's taken me a while to write this review, but it is always delicate to review the work of a friend, as one is never sure that one's opinion will not sound biased. However, I could no longer pass under silence this album that I consider as one of the best albums released in 2002.
Our long-standing readers already know that this "new" English act is in fact the solo project of Dev, who is back after a ten-year break from the scene. After two promising recent compilation appearances, he has at last released his first full-length album on the French label Cynfeirdd. Aided by Matt and Jane Howden for the music and Ian Read on vocals ('Medusa'), he offers to the listener a superb collection of epic neofolk ballads in the purest English tradition.
The music is a combination of strings, percussions, acoustic guitar, piano, flute and trumpet that marvellously underline Dev's particular voice that sounds like a cross between Tony Wakeford and Nick Cave. (Can one think of a better combination?) The songs flow perfectly and form a coherent and mature album containing timeless classics such as 'Our Last Fanfare', 'Sister of the Sea' or 'Medusa'. But if these mature and rich compositions are largely inspired by traditional English folk songs, they also encompass other influences such as the Velvet Underground or Scott Walker ('Burn Like Ice').
If these ten songs bring to mind the 'classic' WSD sound of the early 90's, they are nevertheless inhabited by the strength of Dev's personal artistic and world vision, expressed in the strong lyrics that are reproduced in the booklet accompanying this release.
It has taken Dev a long time to complete this album, but like with a good wine, this maturation time has been beneficial to the music. Only in this case, the music is much sweeter than wine...

Ian C.
Spring 2003


Cynfeirdd: cynfeirdd.free.fr