Review: The Enchanted Wood (2008)


artist: The Enchanted Wood
release: The Enchanted Wood
format: CD
year of release: 2008
label: Dory­phore
dur­a­tion: 35:10

The Enchanted Wood is a pre­cious little pro­ject, hail­ing from France. The influ­ences seem to be gathered from the neo­folk scene, and from artists such as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. I will go pretty straight on here, guid­ing you through the nine tracks. Fol­low me!

The first one sounds like a really broken carou­sel, a pretty ghastly melody actu­ally, and later accom­pan­ied by a banjo. Many of the tracks are built around the banjo, but there are also some gui­tars here, mostly elec­tric, and also some bass, flute and har­monium work. And of course, and above all, Michel’s crys­tal clear vocals that you’ll acquaint your­self with in the second track, the tale about the “Little Girl in White Lace”. It’s a really nice track, remind­ing me a little about Death in June in melody, but with a strummed banjo instead of gui­tar. Track three is also a good one, but with dif­fer­ent qual­it­ies. It remains true to the haunt­ing atmo­sphere, and the lyr­ics are really worth your atten­tion. The fourth track does not really keep me inter­ested all the way through though, I find it dull and too repet­it­ive, with the easy gui­tar line over and over again. It has some nice back­ground noises though. Then comes an inter­lude, pretty unre­mark­able but noth­ing that dis­turbs. I’m glad it’s not too long (which is very com­mon). It boosts the atmo­sphere up a little before you enter “In your Street”, the best track here on this little self titled album. It’s a gui­tar / bass track, with some nervous ten­sion hanging in the air. Good lyr­ics are a trade­mark of this release, and in this track, they’re splen­did. Also, the vocals work per­fectly here. An unaware ear could prob­ably mis­take Michel for a Matt Howden from time to time, and that’s a great score if you ask me. “Memor­ies” is the only track I don’t remem­ber after listen­ing to this album. Don’t know why though, since it has some fine moments, and a really sug­gest­ive mood. I can listen to “Sleep­ing Beauty” on repeat for hours, it’s really smooth and I love the romantic sound­ing singing in this one! Also, the instru­ment­a­tion is great, just listen to the har­monium, and the trans­ition to the final track… Super. The final track, by the way, is a fine outro where the har­monium just keeps going in circles, mak­ing me think a little about Cur­rent 93’s hyp­notic “Sleep Has His House”.

The Enchanted Wood’s debut album is a must-have if you are into exper­i­mental folk and Twin Peaks-moods. It’s ori­ginal, it’s poetic and arty without ever tend­ing to be pre­ten­tious at all. It’s simply a very well craf­ted album and I do wish to hear more from The Enchanted Wood.

Reviewed by C.M.E.

Track­list:

1. The Lady from Venice (2:09)
2. Little Girl in White Lace (3:17)
3. A 7 o’clock Poem (3:26)
4. We Are Strangers (6:46)
5. Inter­lude (1:38)
6. In Your Street (4:16)
7. Memor­ies (1:50)
8. Sleep­ing Beauty (5:59)
9. The Enchanted Wood (5:52)