[14 June 2012]
The Goblin Market is the duo of Jeff Kelly and Laura Weller. They’ve been around on and off for more than a decade, releasing just a handful of albums in between work with their main band, the Green Pajamas. Beneath Far Gondal’s Foreign Sky is a collection of songs inspired by the works of the Bronte sisters. Some of these songs actually set Bronte poems to music, while others take a more general inspiration.
This is a concept with great potential to come across as incredibly nerdy, terribly twee, or some horrific combination of both, so it’s to Kelly and Weller’s great credit that the album is a highly listenable piece of folk-rock. Yes, it’s still nerdy and twee, but it could have been so much worse. There are a lot of gently strummed acoustic guitars and twinkly pianos here—and even the occasional synth woodwinds and brass—but the Goblin Market aren’t afraid to turn up the distortion and rock out every now and then. A quiet, affecting ballad like “The Lock” is the standard folk interpretation for this kind of material, but the setting of the poem “The Night Wind” is driven by a pair of strong electric guitar riffs and some ace bass playing. The band always sounds folky, even when they turn up the guitars and employ a real drummer, and that’s probably a consequence of their poetic and old-fashioned flow of the lyrics. But Beneath Far Gondal’s Foreign Sky is a surprisingly accessible and entertaining album.