Goldmund : All Will Prosper
(2011 Western Vinyl)
Keith Kenniff aka Goldmund aka Helios is an artist whose work wouldn’t normally fit into the concept of this blog very well. His albums as Helios are firmly rooted in dreamy Electric-Ambient-Pop territory and his Goldmund output consisting mainly of minimal piano/modern classical work.
All Will Prosper, on the other hand, is an album of 14 traditional Folk songs from the American Civil War era, plus the Jay Ungar composition Ashoken Farewell (which I am fortunate enough to be aware of from the ‘Ashokan Farewell/Beautiful Dreamer Songs Of Stephen Foster’-CD), and does tie in with the things I want to cover on here perfectly.
What we get are well-known songs such as Amazing Grace, Dixie, Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier and All Quiet on the Potomac. I hadn’t heard a few of the others before – but that is perhaps not all that surprising, given I am from Europe, so these are understandably not as familiar to my ears as they might be to yours (if you are from the US that is). Or maybe you are sick to death of them, as you had to learn them at school and haven’t listend to them for ages. However, even if that should be the case or you plain have forgotten how they sound – on here they most probably sound very different from the way you know them. Not a terrible lot to be said about them either – almost all of them are slow to very slow, all of them instrumental, and with the exception of Dixie on which Keith Kenniff is supported by his brother (I believe) on an upright bass, arranged only with Piano and/or Acoustic guitar. The piano has been recorded with the piano top open and you can hear pedals being pushed and his fingers scratching on the guitar strings as the microphones were placed very close to the guitar.
All songs are very short, (the 15 songs on All Will Prosper only amount to a total playing time of under 34 minutes) and most of them sound a bit alike, at only cursory listen you hardly even notice the end of one and the beginning of the next track. On most other albums this fact could probably be described as something of a weakness, but on here it works very well and is only adding to the reflective, slightly melancholic and utterly peaceful, calming atmosphere throughout the whole album.
I was surprised to hear Barbara Allen on here as I was only aware of that song from the Alasdair Roberts version, a quick internet search revealed that its roots do indeed lie in the British Isles, but it quickly became a standard in the US as well.
Quite impossible (and unnecessary) to pick highlights, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be Amazing Grace – even I have heard this so many times before, it’s hard to be moved by it, but this almost slowed down to a standstill version is nothing but – amazing.
The album also works very well for me as I perfect accompaniment for the book I am currently reading – a biography of Abraham Lincoln.