The Dragon
(American Entertainment, 1999)

Elvendrums is a quartet of drummers -- Devan, Avatar DeDannan, Dragontina and Nerethel Solindas -- who can pluck your heartstrings with their voice and stir your imagination with their lyrics.

With a name like Elvendrums, I expected drumming to be the focus of this debut CD. Instead it's more like the foundation for a wonderfully enchanting experience. The Dragon showcases many different styles of songs, showing both the range of the drummers and the lyric writing/singing. All songs except "Stolen Child" (lyrics by William Butler Yeats) are originals, talking about modern life, modern pagans and the Fey.

At first glance several songs catch your attention with their catchy rhythms and chorus. A closer listen reveals a more sophisticated phrasing and insightful lyrics. The band makes the most out of the three lead singers, highlighting each one's strengths.

The CD leads off with "Rhymer." A flashy jewel of a song, it has you singing along as the Rhymer runs from himself and towards his destination. "Walking in the Woods" makes you miss hearing this band live. You can almost see the moon and smell the trees around you as you hear the crickets and ask yourself just what is it you see in the woods when you walk -- faeries, could it be? "Mask" was the next one to catch my attention with its message of revealing our true selves. "Tir nAn Og" is very evocative, the haunting chorus carrying its message of eternal life, of knowing our loved ones during our many turns on this wheel.

Other less flashy gems make their presence known too, like "Coolavin" and her story of being chosen by Queen Mab to guard the magic until it's time to share it with humans. It's a tear-jerker of a song making you hope that Coolavin doesn't have to wait much longer. "1-1-1" has a hypnotic effect brought about by drums, and a low chant with the message of unity and magic woven by the lead singer's voice in through and out of the chanting. The song itself is possibly a little fragment of magic running loose, touching and affecting anyone listening to it and working to bring its message to fruition.

The percussion instruments used in the songs include ashikos, congas, bongos, frame drums, djembe, Native American drums and assorted rattles, cymbals, chimes and shakers. The quartet blends many different sounds and styles to sing their songs, tell their stories for the listener's delight. I highly recommend this CD and was happily surprised at the level of professionalism and musical expertise this group displays.

[ by Paula Ashton ]