Anonymous 4 - Gloryland

Published Thursday 22nd January 2009
Anonymous 4 - Gloryland
Anonymous 4 - Gloryland

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 77422-15183
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi JMU907400

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

In 2004 Anonymous 4 released 'American Angels' to glowing reviews and commercial success as it spent the next year in the Billboard Classical Chart. 'Gloryland' is the sequel and covers similar musical territory; the subtitle being 'Folk Songs, Spirituals, Gospel Hymns Of Hope & Glory'. The most apt description I can give is that this should have been the soundtrack for Cold Mountain. Those who have read the book as well as seeing the film will understand. For those who do not remember the musical sub-plot of the book, this collection is plowing the same furrow (and I use the American spelling of ploughing deliberately), showing how religious ballads, folk songs, hymns and gospel music can influence one another. The opening piece, "I'm On My Journey Home" is straight out of the 1859 edition of The Sacred Harp. That publication featured a device to help those who could read little or no music to sing parts by using shaped notes that key in to the tonic sol-fa (as in doe, ray, me) system. This can do unusual things to the harmonies, as shaped notes avoid flats and sharps and, more often than not, the time signature is a simple 4 / 4. When done well, as it is here, the result of shape note harmony can be hauntingly atmospheric. "I'm On My Journey Home" also introduces the album's theme for us. The tunes of 'Gloryland' are filled with imagery of the journey ("Wayfaring Stranger"), of birds and flying ("Like Noah's Weary Dove"), of reaching and crossing the Jordan River ("Just Over In The Gloryland", "Where We Will Never Grow Old"). Anonymous 4 are Marsha Genesky, Susan Hellauer, Jacqueline Horner (from Monkstown, Northern Ireland) and Johanna Maria Rose. All are very accomplished soloists and together they make a wonderful sound. On several songs for this album they are joined by Darol Anger of various fiddles and violins and Mike Marshall who plays guitar, mandolin and mandocello. This album is a beautiful look back deep into the origins of American music, with an emphasis on the British rather than the African roots. It is a fascinating journey with some truly talented guides.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.