I was enthusing about Electronic Memory, Mega Dodo’s Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey collection in Record Collector recently, a collection of songs, some of which had previously had appeared on vinyl via Fruits De Mer, just as I’d enthused about Sun Arise, Crystal Jacqueline’s first solo album back a couple of years ago in R2. What’s next is Jacqui’s newest solo recordings – of course in tandem with Icarus Peel – and after all that previous enthusing… well, here’s another record from deepest Devon to enthuse about!
Though it’s still infused through with that hazy 60s psychedelia that they’ve totally captured with such a delicate, light touch in their recordings, Rainflower feels like a more sophisticated, more grown-up record. Partly that might be because there’s more original material on this record than earlier albums, with Icarus’s song-writing in the ascendancy; perhaps they’re buoyed by the great comments both Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot are getting both in print and across psych-related websites. I hope so. There’s a couple of great covers: Status Quo’s ‘In My Chair’ really bursts out, a much rock-driven track than we’re used to hearing and quite startling in its exuberance, and a rendition of the Floyd’s ‘Grantchester Meadows’ that’s also part of FdM’s ‘Momentary One’ 7” single that Ian McCann was reviewing in Record Collector recently.
But what’s great is the way that Icarus and Jacqui are stretching their creative legs and pushing, bending, their sound in different directions. ‘Siren’ is dark psych-folk, shimmering and unsettling with Jacqueline’s vocals being a, well indeed, siren call, imploring, tempting, dangerous. It’s a compelling track with its urgency at the fore. ‘Winter Deep / Dress of White Lace’ an opus, with Mordecai Smyth sharing writing credits, a cleansing and dreamy drift out of the darkness where the Winter is a frosty sharpness described by beautiful vocals and beguiling guitar playing that gives way to a Floyd-ish second half that applies a background of what I’m going to describe as idyllic looseness, that then wraps itself around a delicious and redemptive vocal.
The title track is summer afternoon after a thunderstorm, that perfect quality of air when everything feels renewed and refreshed. ‘Strange Bloom’ is an elusive and hypnotic trip that expands out into another heavier track, and ‘Again… Dragonfly’ is a mystical soundtrack that allows Jacqueline to put some power into the vocal delivery and add that extra bit of magical majesty to the evocative words. All the promise of Sun Arise confirmed and and built on.