Under the Yew Possessed
published: 27 /
Keith How examines recently re-released 1993 lost classic 'Under the Yew Possessed', the debut album of Sorrow, which featured Stawberry Switchblade's Rose McDowall and her then husband Robert Lee.
An album that was originally released in 1993 'Under the Yew Possessed' finds new life in 2018 with a re-release on both CD and vinyl. I was certainly unaware that the band Sorrow are, to all intents and purposes, Rose McDowall and her then husband Robert Lee. I was also unaware that Rose McDowall was part of 1980‘s hitmakers Strawberry Switchblade. Further research reveals that, after Strawberry Switchblade broke up at the end of the 1980s, McDowell found herself a member of the legendary leftfield outfit Current 93 and guesting on albums by artists such as Coil and Nurse With Wound. Quite a different world to that of chart success and pop music.
'Under the Yew Possessed' is a melancholic affair full of whispered vocals laced with an eerie ambience that is both intriguing and fascinating. Gorgeous harmonies intertwine with spoken lyrics housed in otherworldly orchestrations. Opening with 'Die', the listener is drawn into a dream like state. McDowall‘s vocals are angelic, and a twelve string guitar chimes like a harp lending an almost baroque feel to the track on this slow, hypnotic opener.
As 'Under the Yew Possessded' progresses the sense of quiet melancholy remains throughout. Songs conjure up a pictures of a wistful faerie-like creature wandering between joy and despair. Whispered poetry echoes over an orchestrated ambience on 'Dew of the Sea' before the slightly poppy and uptempo 'Emptiness'.The vocals are again spoken while the backing is flute lead and catchy. The guitar break is delightful.
After twenty-five years 'Under the Yew Possessed' is still difficult to classify. There is an underground Goth feel but the overall sense of despair and beauty are never far away. Hailed as a lost classic 'Under the Yew Possessed' never really departs from a feeling of feminine fragility. The settings to the songs is clever and often neo-classical, reflecting Robert Lee‘s influence and desire to present the songs in a serious manner.
A very intriguing re-release that captivates and delights.
Photographs by Gilbert Blecken
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