The Blue Hour 
~reviewed by Matthew

Seattle’s Blue Hour is primarily the solo project of one Brian Hodges.  This debut release “Evensong” is a sedate, romantic collection of dark folk ballads with a twist of Pagan mythology to colour the lyrics.  The music is very relaxing, mellow, and depressively introspective.  The listener feels as though they have snuck up behind a lonely troubadour in the forest, pouring forth his heart upon his lute (in this case his guitar).  There are shades of modernity to be found in sparse and subtle keyboard work, which is employed for the most part for a few scattered ambient interludes throughout the disc, but as to flesh out the musical backdrop of the remaining tracks.

If the song titles alone didn’t hint of Mr. Hodges’ admiration for Sol Invictus, his cover of “Lex Talionis” will solidify any suspicions you may have had.  And indeed, his version is a unique and perhaps more minimalist interpretation.  A much starker and more intimate version than the original, The Blue Hour version is simply much creepier and more foreboding.  This of course, is a good thing.  I was very pleased with his cover of a very familiar and timeless apocalyptic folk classic.

Unlike Tony Wakeford, Brian’s voice is very clear and commanding, sometimes a hint of Thanatos’ vocalist shines through while at other times he sounds like a more sincere Johnny Indovina from Human Drama.  He has a very ‘youthful’ voice, which suits the music quite well.  Sometimes his voice soars smooth and heartfelt, while at other times he relies upon a chilling, malevolent whisper, as in the masterful closing track “Red Sands" (Which also feature a few lines from metaphysical poet John Donne, and you can't go wrong with that!)

My only problem with this CD is a very minute one, and that is I feel the ambient interludes sort of disrupt the momentum of the CD, certainly it disrupts the seeming medieval simplicity of it all.  I see the reason behind their inclusion, to stir things up a bit, but I wonder if it is really all that favourable a mix?  Perhaps something more striking and complex might due.  At worst, some with more demanding attention spans may find the CD to be a bit too mellow.   While I enjoyed the moody gloom of the CD, I do think it could stand a bit more moments of tension and musical expansion. The Blue Hour mp3 site suggests influences by the composers Mahler and Shostakovich, so perhaps there is much more to come. Regardless, I definitely see a healthy future for The Blue Hour.

With those small things aside, “Evensongs” is a fantastically organic and richly arranged CD, and though mellow, it is not at all boring.  The mood is dark; the overall feel of the CD is definitely a deep, murky, and introspective journey that World Serpent and apocalyptic folk fans will instantly enjoy.  The quality of the vocals as well will immediately sit well with potential listeners.

Definitely one of the better CDs I have heard recently, and perfect for late night lamentations and for moments of melancholic relaxation.   Keep an eye out for The Blue Hour on the upcoming World Serpent tribute release to William Blake, where an interpretation of “Night” will appear.

Track List:
1.) The Navigator
2.) Eyes Of Nature
3.) A Tree Stands Alone
4.) A Garden In Winter
5.) I Am The Wind
6.) Mirror Of October
7.) My Lady Upon Silvery Pool
8.) Procession Of The Sun
9.) Silence My Dress
10.) Lex Talionis
11.) Temple Of Ice
12.) This Path
13.) Red Sands

The Blue Hour is:
Brian Hodges – vocals, classical & acoustic guitars, flutes, loops, 
keyboards, percussion, and programming

Christopher Gladis: 12 string acoustic and electric guitars, programming
Tom Moller: percussion on “Eyes Of Nature” “I Am The Wind” and “This Path”




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