CD Review

Coven 13 - "Book Of Shadows"

By Marcus Pan

Book of ShadowsThere really are quite a few great singers out there. From the front of the trance-induced My Scarlet Life, to the folk-rock of Paris By Nite. Karin of Collide comes to mind too, as does Bel Canto's Anneli Drecker. I could wax on, but I'll stop here - because I have another wonderful singing voice to introduce to you today. Only this time rather than a woman, it belongs to a man by the name of Teisen Russell. Together with pianist Amanda Adams this Massachusetts based duo have been bringing their carnival throughout the state. The melodies these two create is wonderfully matched. Weaving together piano ballads and Renaissance folk songs, Coven 13 weave a beautiful tribute. Book Of Shadows truly is a beautiful collection of work. From love to loss and macabre to sorcery, Teisen and Amanda have finally found a calling they can undauntedly share with the rest of us.

When Coven 13 play they bring a whole mood with them. Carnival dancers, jugglers, fire eaters - they're all with them as they twist their beauty around the audience. Few bands will bring a troupe with them to recreate their attitudes and moods to such an extent as Coven 13 have been known to do. Some of their music covers horrific themes and it is these that I admire most of all. Not because the songs are strong and frightening, but because they are just as smooth and poetic as the others about love and magic. Instead Teisen will tickle your spine with lyrics that are wise yet frightening - and probably more true than any of us care to admit. Coven 13, in the creation of their debut Book Of Shadows release, attempted to mix contemporary, renaissance and classical sounds to create "a world where magick lives." Each song is a story and chapter on a musical journey. While they may not fit together as neatly as, say, MeridieM's obvious storyline in A Distant Thunder, they are nonetheless a coherent journey. From darkness to light, then back into darkness - but not screaming back into the night, no. Instead it's like a dream. You wake up - the world is ok. You dream - and you are somewhere else, not as nice, but strangely inviting. Then you wake up again - and everything in the world is put to rights. But then at last, by the time Teisen tells you I'll Be Watching You, it is time to wonder - did you mix it up? Was the dream time the bad - or the good parts of the story? Are you SURE?

From the opening Carnival Ride, Coven 13 takes us to a different place. This particular track to me took me to the story "Something Wicked This Way Comes." It's slow, moody and moves along with a funeral march drumming style. It can actually be a frightening song - if you let it. And I think you should. Opening with a phone call that reminds me of the movie "Scream," Red is another highlight to the album. Did you ever feel like you were being watched? Like someone was there, somewhere in the shadows, just watching you walk down the dark street on your way home from work, or from the club that night? Maybe there was - do you really know? Do you want to? Me neither. It's a scary song with controlled guitar riffs dragging you deeper into the darkness in the background. A whining guitar plays its banshee-like wail.

Coven 13Windy and cold, icy and far away from home. The chapter of And Oh, How I've Wanted You brings you to unrequited love. How do you tell someone you can never have how much you want to wrap your arms around them? Wonderful piano and masterful vocal tracks coalesce together. If you still find yourself wanting somebody you can not have, you must get this album. Just for this song. And then give it to them. Another highlight, nine tracks into Book Of Shadows, shows the agility of Amanda's ivory hands. Tell Me's greatest asset is the piano that is always moving. If you want a slower song, a piano ballad perhaps, you need only wait for Tell Me to finish and then let the CD roll to track eleven. Here sits In Heaven, another love ballad. This is the one you give to your unrequited one if ever you do get to hold them. And Oh, How I've Wanted You is to bring them closer - and In Heaven is where you can, if you're lucky, go with them when they get here.

There's more I can say, still further I can go. But this is where I will stop. Much more lies in the Book Of Shadows, but there it will have to wait until you discover it for yourself. Put on your lovely evening dress laced with pearls that cascade like rays of tears from the moon, I'll bring the chartreuse, and we'll dance together in the shadows masterfully woven together like Arachne's web by Coven 13.

Contact Information:
Post: Major Entertainment, 72 East Dedham St., Suite #5, Boston, MA, 02118
Phone: (617) 770-4986
Fax: (617) 422-0032

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