""As a singer she recalls folk greats Kate and Anna McGarrigle, or Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard; an acquired taste, but a taste worth acquiring. It is Lavelle's classic songwriting, affecting vocals and lush cello arrangements that put the stamp on an impressive album" - Daily Telegraph
"Surely one of the most distinctive and thrilling vocalists to appear in the last decade, her's is that rare voice that once heard, cannot be forgotten." - Musical Discoveries
"Pulls a mass of emotions and ideas from her song writing and sings with elegant intensity ****" - Q
"A powerful statement about her attributes as a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist" - Music Week
"Compared to ..., Caroline Lavelle's voice and songs are altogether darker – and consequently in some ways more moving. On first listen the CD seems perhaps a little melancholic, but really this is a reflection of its hidden depths. Many of the songs have a distinct folk flavour, which provides a familiar anchor when set adrift in these truly remarkable arrangements.
The classical string quartet is one of the crowning achievements of Western civilisation, but not something normally associated with folk music. Here alongside more customary guitar arrangements it is used to exquisite effect. Refreshingly free of synthesised sounds this CD has been painstakingly crafted with imaginative natural instrumentation including solo cello, psaltery, cor anglais (rather than oboe), and a haunting bass clarinet (not its little brother).
It's taken a few listens to really delve into the textures of this CD, but it is increasingly rewarding. This is deeply felt music for its own sake and is truly a joy to discover amidst a world full of so much blandness, complacency and unoriginality.
The CD is worth buying for track 9 alone in which Caroline weaves an enchanting folkish melody over music from composer David Bedford's Twelve Hours of Sunset. A full orchestral soundscape that far exceeds all synthesised ambient music in subtlety and tonal quality, and needless to say, originality." - Kindred Spirit
'A Distant Bell' is Caroline Lavelle's self-produced, thirteen song Chamber Folk reinterpretation of English and Irish traditions. The same deep well of folk material that inspired Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention is transformed by the lens of Lavelle's pastoral romanticism as we travel with her from Medieval Sussex to 1960s Liverpool via the social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution, the battle fields of the Napoleonic Wars and of 1915 Armenia.
'A Distant Bell' and an artist's fifteen year musical journey ....
From the early 1980s to early 90s as a member of De Dannan spanning the golden years of that legendary group (alongside Mary Black and Dolores Keane), her many record tenure with Loreena McKennitt and as sometime touring member of The Chieftains, Caroline has maintained the thread of creativity that connects her to her Celtic heritage and rural English roots. This is Chamber-Folk at its finest.
She has been at the forefront of expanding those traditions into the field of Electonica via her work with Massive Attack (Home Of The Whale) and William Orbit (Moorlough Shore), Jam Nation (She Moved Through The Fair) and the Afro Celt Sound System.
'A Distant Bell' brings it all back home with thirteen songs that includes two versions if the Wicker Man soundtrack favourite 'Gently Johnny', Pentangle's 'The Trees They Do Grow High' and Fotheringay's 'Banks Of The Nile'. Another stand-out is a luminous version of 'Greenwood Laddie' underpinned by David Bedford's gorgeous arrangement for choir and orchestra.
The official web site also features a free download of the demo of 'Bushes and Briars' which Caroline sang throughout the Loreena McKennitt 'Book Of Secrets' world tour .
The work of the First World War poet Siamanto (first heard on 'Brilliant Midnight') makes another appearance in the song 'Handful Of Ashes' which Caroline sings here in the original Armenian.
Two songs feature lyrics by 'Liverpool Poet' Brian Patten, whose work Caroline also recorded on her 1995 Warner Brothers debut album, 'Spirit'. Patten is himself no stranger to the potential of collaborations in this idiom having worked with Linda Thompson (then Linda Peters) on his 1971 album 'Vanishing Trick : Poems and Songs'.
Apart from David Bedford, Caroline's musical collaborators here include another 'Spirit' era colleague, arranger and co-producer Harvey Brough, dazzling electric fiddle virtuoso Hugh Marsh and also legendary Chieftain Paddy Moloney who makes a cameo appearance on 'Farewell To Music'.
Fans of Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Vaughan Williams, Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, June Tabor, Kathleen Ferrier, Pentangle, Shirley Collins, Maddy Prior, Planxty, Linda Thompson & Roy Harper will find much to enjoy here.
For those listeners to whom this is new ground, 'A Distant Bell' opens a window on a 900 year treasure trove of musical tradition - to quote the call to arms of a previous generation of Folk Rock pioneers, "It All Comes Round Again".