Crying Lion

The Golden Boat

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Born out of a passion for group harmony traditions, the Crying Lion is a Scottish a cappella project led by Trembling Bells frontman Alex Neilson. A heady mix of English folk, Madrigal, chant, and Sacred Harp influences inform Neilson's original songs, which ring with the sort of eclectic mysticism that U.K. forebears the Incredible String Band championed in the late '60s. Along with fellow Trembling Bell Lavinia Blackwell, the quartet features Harry Campbell and Katy Cooper of Glaswegian vocal group Muldoon's Picnic. Released by London's Honest Jon's Records, their nine-song debut, The Golden Boat, is a strange and exultant wonder recorded in Glasgow's Govan Old Parish Church. On songs like "John Ball's Blues" and "Christ Made a Trance," their rich vocal blend is stark and unadorned, though various instrumental accompaniments can be heard throughout the set, most often in the form of a robust brass section. Organ, fiddle, and a cacophony of percussion usher in the dramatic psychedelia of opener "A Boy's Dream" while strains of autoharp and hurdy-gurdy fill out other tracks, particularly the dreamy highlight "Andalusian Moon," which feels like something from another realm entirely. It's an album of passion and craft, captured with a strong dose of spirited spontaneity that will likely earn the Crying Lion some well-deserved cult fandom.

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