The Fables,
Tear the House Down
(self-produced, 1998)

The Fables are a rock group. They are also a Celtic group. Basically, this means that they use electric guitars and drums in equal measure with fiddles and a bodhran. This unique blend of sounds was unexpected when I bought this CD -- but only because I don't think I've heard anything like it.

The Fables hail from Newfoundland; both their interpretations of traditional tunes and their modern rock sensibility come from the musical heritage of their home province. The band includes former Irish Descendant D'Arcy Broderick on lead vocals, fiddle, mandola and guitar; Glenn Simmons on vocals, electric guitar and acoustic guitar; Billy Sutton on vocals, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bouzouki and bodhran; Clyde Wiseman on vocals, bass and guitar; and Dave Fitzpatrick on vocals, drums, percussion and guitar. The instrument list alone is impressive, and all five band members sing sing as well, which allows for a lot of rich vocal arrangements.

It took a few turns for this record to really make an impression on me; but after I saw the band live in Dartmouth, NS, this summer and watched Sutton tune his instruments for not less than 30 minutes, I began to realize that it deserved a closer look. Ah, the clarity that comes on foggy nights in Nova Scotia.

Tear the House Down contains a combination of traditional offerings, which are kept fresh with interesting instrumental arrangements, and original material, written by Fitzpatrick and Simmons, showing a lot of potential. The highlights of the disc are the sentimental cultural lament "Fish Out of Water," an emotional rendering of the oft performed ode "Sam Hall," three instrumental medleys that keep the pace of the record on track and bridge the gap between the old and the new, a kickin' electric guitar version of the Newfoundland anthem "Heave Away," and the heartbreaking final track "Lilly," which was so different from the other material on the CD that I had to double check my changer to see which disc it was playing.

The Fables are a talented group of musicians -- most of the time, they manage to keep the huge number of instruments from taking over their songs. Tear the House Down is a good first record and could be a great stepping stone for this band. It will be interesting to hear where they go next.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]



Buy it from Amazon.ca.