Gaia Consort,
(Suddenly Naked Arts Collective, 2004)

Evolve is the third album from Gaia Consort, a self-produced "psychedelic folk-rock band with a string trio." This offering provides an interesting dichotomy of upbeat pop-ish sounds with thought-provoking lyrics. Unlike most alternative or fringe music, Gaia Consort chooses not to mire the pagan, social and political messages interwoven in all their songs with a serious downtrodden sound. In an odd manner, they're making you tap your toes while firing a few extra neurons about the world community.

The title track has a nice percussive lead-in -- kind of a world/tribal beat -- with a catchy repetitive chorus. What you realize is the repetitive message of "Evolve" concerns the repetitive/cyclical nature of "life teaches life" and evolution. The percussive elements keep the song accessible, otherwise the philosophical ramifications would make the song too distant. It's a clever move on Gaia Consort's part that is a recurring theme throughout the album.

"Peace Now" sounds like a cheery, upbeat song -- but don't be fooled. The instruments and pace hide the epic tone of the lyrics, an allegory for overcoming a militaristic and violent society with nonviolent resistence. "Drawing Down the Moon" slows it down a bit, compared to the rest of the pack. This is a richly metaphorical song concerning the rituals of night and passion. With another set of lyrics, this would be a prototypical slower-paced love song.

There are some songs that don't travel as deep as others. For instance, "No Shadows" is a song of attraction/infatuation that pushes a pop sound but isn't bogged down with being needlessly formulaic and cheery. Another song, "Solstice Call," whose best description is a pagan party song, has a sound very reminiscent of traditional Irish drinking songs.

On Evolve, Gaia Consort teeters on the edge of having a mainstream sound. Lead vocalist Christopher Bingham sounds somewhat like Chicago's Peter Cetera. Their pop sound sometimes ventures into BeeGees territory, especially in "Moon She Rises." (That particular song was written in 1983, so that may explain part of it.) As previously mentioned, "Peace Now" sounds like something that might show up on Rick Dee's Weekly Top 40 until you start comprehending the inherent socio-political message. In an almost strategic manner, their lyrics and subsequent ideology keep them firmly rooted in a comfortable fringe status despite a quasi-pop sound.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 4 September 2004

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