Green Crown,
Washed in Her Blood
(Harvest Queen, 1998)

The band is blessed by good instrumentalists.

Ignore the vocals, and Green Crown has put together a fairly nice album in Washed in Her Blood. Jim "Barleycorn" Brewster blows a good whistle and recorder, for instance, and the deeply thrumming strings of Diana McFadden's cello and Violette Rose's acoustic bass add gorgeous atmosphere to most arrangements. Lead singer Olvardil Prydwyn plays a good harp, too. But the problem is that, as a singer, Prydwyn plays a good harp.

It sounds like he's striving for a style somewhere between Robin Williamson and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. But his nasal tones aren't quite up to their level, and the album suffers for it.

It's a shame, too, because the man does play a good harp and guitar and, on the lengthy "There is a Green Crown," a sruti box. His droning vocals on that tune, combined with harmony backers Diana Sunday and Ariana Lightningstorm, actually work a lot better, too. Vocal harmonies on "Pat's Song" (Sunday and Lightningstorm again) also work well, particularly with excellent layers of whistle, cello and bass.

Used occasionally, it might have been fine. But a whole album of Prydwyn's singing is tough to get through.

Another failing here are Prydwyn's original lyrics, found on a handful of the album's 11 tracks. The worst offender is "New Song," which boasts the adolescent refrain, "Girl, I think I love you, I can tell that I do by the way that your eyes move me. Say, I think I love you, I know that I do by the way that your thighs move." And the way he slows down on the word "thighs" suggest he's giving his audience time for embarrassed giggles. Every time. Yeah.

The Prydwyn/Daevid Allen tune "Mistress Moon/Selene" also causes a few stumbles. I think the voice of Selene is supposed to sound seductive, but reciter Sherry Gibson mostly sounds bored. The "space whispers" and moans in the background might be sounds of faraway celestial sex, or they might be the cries of women in extreme pain. It's hard to tell. And there goes Prydwyn on the subject of thighs again. I think he's fixated.

Washed in Her Blood comes with seven tracks by Green Crown, plus four bonus tunes by just Prydwyn and McFadden. (I wish they'd lose the long pause between tracks, though. It's annoying.) Prydwyn redeems himself somewhat on a nice, traditional rendition of "John Barleycorn." The epic "The Witch in the Well," written by Prydwyn, features multiple vocal levels, a driving rhythm and a soaring cello counter-melody by McFadden. It's actually quite good, one of the album's best tracks.

Of course, some people will be attracted by the very nature of the album. A recording of blatantly pagan songs is a rare commodity, and too much of the material on the market today is substandard. Green Crown has the benefit of some excellent musicians, and the Green Man artwork is a plus. (I particularly like the fiddling Green Man on the cover. Kudos to artist Timothy Renner.)

Bottom line, Green Crown: hang onto your musicians, utilize every drop of Prydwyn's instrumental skill, but find someone to share lead vocal duties.

By the way, do you get the feeling a lot of the folks in the band are using false names? Ah well, no matter.

[ by Tom Knapp ]