Allysen Callery’s Winter Island/The Summer Place is being released as a limited edition vinyl release on Jellyfant. The album features Allysen’s two EPs Winter Island and The Summer Place originally released as separate CDs on Nuremberg based Woodland Recordings in 2011 and 2012.
Callery’s self-taught style of thumb and three fingered picking of nylon strings is present throughout, possessing a delightful sense of economy masking an underlying complexity.
The album is distinct with seasonal identities, opening with a series of frozen images depicted in Winter Island as she explores her kinship with the gentle howl of a winter’s wind, as the listener is enfolded within the cool richness of her voice. Callery describes herself as quiet music for a loud world, and here there is a tremendous amount to be embraced from her delicately hushed portrayal.
Snow Pony continues an enchanting delivery, casting a spell that animates an otherworldly ice bound landscape. Gentle incantations explore the possibility of life emerging from within the ice, in turn passing this to the snow formed creation of human hands. It’s here that Callery’s suggestion of the label of ghost folk for her work is most compelling. Her ethereal voice is employed to magically wrap the listener in her spells of life brought by the cold blue lips of deep winter. There is an ephemeral lightness of voice, floating in the bitter air for a short while before daybreak banishes that which was briefly transformed into life.
Young Edwin pays homage to Steeleye Span’s take on the tale of long awaited love cruelly stolen by greed. Callery’s gently rolling; haunting other worldliness perfectly traces the rolling to and fro of the sea shells. Mimicking the lifeless sway of Edwin’s body beneath the waves, as bright youthful hope turns to shrieks from Emma’s cell at Bedlam.
Finger picking hastens amid the first hints of the promise of sunlight on Honeymoon which provides the transition from winter to summer for the second half of the LP. See the Sea maintains the upbeat break into warmth as Callery explores with touching gentleness a sense of anticipation. The optimism and love is played out with light and tenderness as she dips in and out of the imagery of grey rocky seascapes and threatening howling winds becoming lyrical and gentle.
The Huntsman takes a turn towards dark images of ensnarement within relationships characterised by emotional restraint. Callery sings of being the bird who despite a broken wing, picks out the eyes of the snarling wolf-like hunter before escaping.
Relief is offered by Sakonnet, an invitation to gently bask amidst the vineyards of Callery’s native Rhode Island, on an unhurried deep September day. Flowers seeds are offered to plant within The Summer Place, as if to allow further opportunity for her vibrant landscapes to take root, developing a life of their.
Mockingbird and Whippoorwill surround the listener with a birdsong infused landscape to complete the journey through the Summer Place.
Allysen Callery offers an album whose juxtaposition of character forms a harmony, leaving the listener spell bound and pleasantly haunted with a diverse set of timeless memories.
Review by: Iain Orr