The Eighteenth Day of May

The Eighteenth Day of May

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When it comes to British folk-rock, Fairport Convention's 1969 classic Liege & Lief occupies the same influential trophy case as the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, and Nirvana's Nevermind. London folk revivalists Eighteenth Day of May have studied that record well, alternating between male and female lead vocals, bending traditional pieces into pastoral folk-rock hymns and utilizing an arsenal of traditional instruments without ever sacrificing the cool strains of an electric guitar through a vintage amplifier. Like fellow new traditionalists Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, EDM evoke the countryside in all of its sunlight splendor and rainy gloom, peppering their eponymous debut with descending autoharps, bells, dulcimers, and the occasional flute solo, and for the first few songs they sound like clipper ship full of wind. The lush "Eighteen Days," "Sir Casey Jones" with its Volunteers-era Jefferson Airplane harmonies, and the rolling "Highest Tree" are mini road trips set to music, but by the time a plodding cover of Bert Jansch's "Deed I Do" appears, the record begins a slow descent into a midtempo sinkhole filled with lush but forgettable folk-pop. The members of this talented collective have obviously done their homework, and their reverence is admirable, but there is so little danger on this excruciatingly safe debut that it ultimately renders itself invisible.

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