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The Gravel Walk

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Album Review

The results of the tinkering that Tempest has conducted on previous albums are unveiled with resounding results. The Gravel Walk achieves a solid balance between their foundational classic '70s rock and folk influences. Lead singer, flautist, and mandolin player Lief Sorbye is no longer the dominant centerstage occupant. His once commanding presence has blended smoothly with that of his bandmates. Most of these fellows have played together for years but are now reaching their height as performers who have settled on their musical blueprint and grown comfortable with it. Particularly well-suited for Tempest's dual-purpose is fiddler Michael Mullen. He is just as adept at incorporating traditional Irish reels ("Flowers of Red Hill") as he is at integrating a searing Robbie Steinhardt-esque electric violin solo. Robert Wullenjohn compares favorably to Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre. Many of his mannerisms resemble Barre's, including his well-tempered, crafty but not self-absorbed style. He's forever hovering around each song, preparing to plunge in with an irresistible riff or to playfully insert some humorous fretwork when applicable. As usual, a couple of Norwegian folk songs from Sorbye's vast catalog are included. "Sinclair" is a quaint number sung in Norwegian that, were it not for the English introduction and translation, could easily pass as a harmless courting or seafaring song rather than the conniving and pillaging account of battle that it is. Buried deep in the "Karfluki Set" is yet another version of "Music for a Found Harmonium." An accommodating piece, it lends itself nicely to a variety of arrangements including this funky, free-form, folk-rock assault by Tempest. Bassist Jay Nania and drummer Adolfo Lazo flawlessly provide the rhythm necessary for those versatile jaunts into the wonderful world of "Celtodelia."


Formed: 1972

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Tempest has a band name that might suggest a group of sneering, leather-wearing, head-banging metal heads, but the group's music is less threatening and more expansive than its name suggests. Tempest plays traditional Celtic music with a rock & roll intensity that's accented by a wide range of influences from the blues to American country music, Cajun 2-steps, and Arabic music, with some old-time San Francisco psychedelic flair. It's a mix bandleader Lief Sorbye calls "Celtodelic". The band's music,...
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The Gravel Walk, Tempest
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