Enoch Train,
Set Sail
(Joyspring, 2001)

While this album could be categorized as folk, Celtic or world music, these are mere coverings for their body of work. In its heart, Set Sail by Enoch Train is a deeply religious tribute to Christian faith that uses the entire world as its starting point. Despite having a myriad of material to use, Enoch Train's attention to the order, arrangement and composition of this album is a testament to their dedication.

The opening track, "Babylon/Paddy Clyde," is appropriately energetic and introduces a broad range of musical instruments (guitars, mandolins, woodwinds, several percussive instruments and even foot tapping). The second track, "Seminary Samba" -- the only weak link of the album -- attempts an evocation of serenity. Serenity is achieved, but at the cost of your waking state. Most sambas have a relaxed sense of energy, but this samba is lethargic and at times sounds like grocery background music. "Fidelity's Trial" makes up for its predecessor with a build-up pace that offers a satisfying denouement. Plus, read the background info on this song -- it adds another layer to appreciate the composition of the song.

Three tracks in particular convey the strength of their faith and tribute to God through their music: "Bantu Assembly," a spiritual African tune with rather unique instruments; "A Sleep and a Forgetting," a touching tribute to lead vocalist/bass guitarist Rob Honey's grandfather, with lyrics adapted from William Wordsworth; and "Lion of Judah," an energetic Celtic fusion tune.

While the first nine tracks either focus on a single genre or feature a combination of genres, the last track is an all-out fusion of musical stylings from across the globe. The tagline on the CD cover says "Eight Musicians -- Ninety Instruments -- Hundreds of Years of Folk Hymn Heritage." While that is an appropriate description of the rest of the album, it is an understatement for the finale, "From Albert Dock -- The Journey of the Enoch Train," an interpretation of an immigrant's voyage to the New World. The previous tracks build up to this finale, a menagerie of melodies going from somber to energetic to jovial to expectation. If the tagline on the cover is boasting, the finale substantiated that boast.

Set Sail is a wonderful album that manages to cram a lot of styles into a cohesive and integrated whole. While the foldout text is used as an accessory, in this case it is essential that the listener read each track's blurb to understand the band's conviction to faith and music. Set Sail takes the listener on a broad religious and musical journey that is worth it.

[ by C. Nathan Coyle ]
Rambles: 7 September 2002