Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Stone Breath - Twist of Thorn (2012)

artist: Stone Breath
release: Twist of Thorn
format: MC
year of release: 2012
label: Brave Mys­ter­ies
dur­a­tion: 40:19

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

After a hiatus of sev­eral years where it looked like the pro­ject was done for, Timothy Ren­ner’s Stone Breath returned in 2007 with lovely single The Holly Crown. Since then, the dis­co­graphy has been enriched with new albums, and this in itself was an enrich­ment for the US altern­at­ive folk land­scape as a whole.

Twist of Thorn marks the debut of the band on Brave Mys­ter­ies, a label that is many years younger than Stone Breath, which is com­ing close to its 20-year anniversary, but the two are emin­ently suited to each other in terms of music and philo­sophy. Ori­gin­ally inten­ded as an intro­duct­ory EP for the label’s steady cus­tom­ers who might not be famil­iar with the band, it quickly grew into some­thing of a com­plete album. At its core are three rework­ings of tracks Ren­ner ori­gin­ally did with Tara Van­Flower on the Black Happy Day album In the Garden of Ghost­flowers in 2006. The new ver­sions are closer to the acous­tic Stone Breath style, and set some­what dif­fer­ently to the music. Now, harp is a prom­in­ent instru­ment on both “Hand in Hand” and “In the Garden of Ghost­flowers”, whereas “How Many Hours ’til the Spider’s Work Is Done?” retains the won­der­ful ritual expans­ive­ness of the ori­ginal, though again with a more organic sound.

The new tracks are worth­while as well. “Johnny Has Gone for a Sol­dier” is a poignant tra­di­tional war song, and “No Ends Meet” has a lush neo­folk gui­tar arrange­ment that is simply won­der­ful. Both suf­fer a bit from a less than per­fect vocal per­form­ance, but I’m will­ing to look past that on account of the mer­its. Gentle fol­low-up “Sil­hou­ette” makes up for that gen­er­ously as well: a lovely calm and warm track that shows Ren­ner’s sweet side.

Des­pite rough edges, which admit­tedly have always been an integ­ral part of Stone Breath’s sound to a cer­tain degree, Twist of Thorn is a lovely dark folk tape, a strong con­tinu­ant in what is one of the strongest oeuvres in exper­i­mental folk any­way. An excel­lent choice by an excel­lent label to pick this up, and based on this I am anxious to hear to upcom­ing LP.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Where the Crows Go (3:33)
2. Hand in Hand (2:50)
3. Johnny Has Gone for a Sol­dier (4:09)
4. In the Garden of Ghost­flowers (3:45)
5. No Ends Meet (3:57)
6. Sil­hou­ette (2:37)
7. Mad­stone (3:02)
8. How Many Hours ’til the Spider’s Work Is Done? (9:21)
9. Blood Winter (6:55)