The Winding Stair - Finistere
In the symbolic language of the poet WB Yeats, the tower was the body and the winding stair was the soul. And so loads of his later works battled it out between the two extremes; life versus art, the physical and the spiritual.
We all know where Irish combo The Winding Star is coming from. Their music steers away from the noise and the filthy impulses of rock and roll. Rather, it seeks a place where feelings are considered in tranquillity, where power chords are outlawed and the cello hath dominion.
Acoustic guitar and violin also conspire to surround the voice of Clare Galway. Again, it's an instrument that's free from the influence of rhythm and blues. She sings high and clear, closer in spirit to folk divas such as Sandy Denny and June Tabor. Your scowling cousin with the Marilyn Manson T-shirt may not care much for it.
But that's not to say that the music is sterile and unresponsive. The track 'Promise' takes a while to rev up, but the intensity rises and the payload is considerable. And in 'Revelry' the melancholia is scored by the sound of a bell, tolling forlornly.
A few tunes sound rather mannered and lacking in colour, but the closing track 'How Can I Be Lonely' is virtually a pop song. It has a chorus of sorts, some nicely woven harmonies and the insistent tap of a bodhran. It's a perfect sign-off, allowing the band the option of turning all accessible and cool. Alternately, The Stairs may simply chose to takes us higher still.