Thirty years can really age a record but for harpist and singer Carol Kleyn, things are pretty much status quo. Kleyn’s Return of the Silkie, released by Drag City on September 17, is a reissue of the singer’s 1983 album. The album’s distinctly new age hippy feel may not appeal to everybody but for fans of the genre Return of the Silkie could be a potential staple.
On Return of the Silkie, Kleyn keeps the music simple. The songs only involve her vocals and harp, with occasional help from Mother Nature. The ocean may crash in the background while cries from seals punctuate other tracks. It’s good to hear an album that incorporates ambient nature sounds in a way that doesn’t sound forced. It never sounds unnatural. The simplicity doesn’t get boring either. Kleyn’s ethereal voice carries the tracks, serving as the perfect accompaniment to the otherworldly sound of a harp.
Kleyn is from the West Coast. She calls herself “nomadic” and promotes the idea that life is short, to live while you can. The theme carries throughout the album through descriptive lyrics. Nature plays an important, somewhat romantic role, too. Kleyn recognizes the bond man shares with the great outdoors, that primal calling that seems to grab humans by the nose and doesn’t let go, no matter how detached from nature they may seem.
“Sailor in the Sun” is a fun track about finding oneself. It heavily plays into the idea of living in the moment and taking time to go on a journey of self discovery. It never sounds preachy, just inspiring. Kleyn wants listeners to “go and dance in the wind.”
The force of nature is probably displayed most prominently on “Rivers’ Calling.” A river is turned into a woman who lures Kleyn to her shores. It’s not like the dangerous sirens' song, though, more like a request from a good friend. It proves that sometimes our own backyard can provide the perfect escape from day-to-day life.
The album has three songs with no vocal accompaniment, the first track, “Return of the Silkie”, the sixth, “Land Voyage”, and the last track, “And Back Again.” The three songs serve as the perfect introduction, intermission and end. They give Kleyn a chance to put a spotlight on her skills as a harpist while providing a sense of symmetry to the record.
Carol Kleyn may not find popularity in the mainstream but her idyllic vision of nature and simple, beautiful sound will definitely help build a fan base among younger listeners.
1. Return of the Silkie
3. Sailor in the Sun
5. Hello Mister Drifter
6. Land Voyage
8. Rivers' Calling
9. Storm Over Paradise
10. And Back Again