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Boomkat Product Review:
I'm pretty sure that one of these days the fountain of lost folk records is going to run dry, there's got to come a time when there's just no more 'lost gems' to find, but right now they seem to be heading our way left right and centre. Locust is the latest to get on with the crate digging, and somehow they've managed to strike gold with this collection from lesser known 70s Christian folk act Silmaril. As with all records of this kind, it always helps to have a good story behind it, and Silmaril's story is better than most - a band led by Matthew Peregrine, the four met at a Catholic youth retreat and were united by their love of God, but oddly, Peregrine was deep down struggling with his own homosexuality. Believing strongly in the kind of ultra-conservative Christianity the rest of the world loves to hate, he condemned himself to unhappiness, something which is reflected in Silmaril's lyrics. Eventually he would find himself leaving the band and relocating to Houston where he would embrace his homosexuality fully (even starting a gay cowboy band.) but at this time he was deeply troubled, and there's honestly nothing better for writing folk music. Apart from Christianity the band shared a love of Tolkien (hence the name) and mysticism, so you can probably imagine the lyrics occasionally dip into almost Comus-style weirdness, only dragged back into sanity by the Christian leanings at its core. All this is set to the most beautiful instrumentation, performed by Tom Tews and Michael SanFillipo and occasionally helped along by Tews' girlfriend Sharon Larke who contributed flawless haunting vocals. There might be a wealth of olde folk to choose from at the moment but there's something about these crumbling, almost innocent recordings that sets them apart from the others. It might be the story, the hopelessness of the whole affair that makes it sound so magical now, but it's certainly got the tunes to keep you coming back again and again. Traditional in parts and psychedelic sounding in others, this should appeal to fans of the Incredible String Band, Pentangle and more recently re-issues on the Finders Keepers or Numero label, but it also shares a lot with previous contemporary releases on Locust. An important, sad and beautiful record - highly recommended.