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Balance

by Tempest

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about

Dionysus struggles to overcome the force of Apollo … yin arm-wrestles with yang … Black grapples with white, day locks horns with night.
A common thread is seen here, running like a blood-red line through all of literary and artistic history: the quest for balance. It is the quest for the understanding of that which we do not possess, the understanding that our own particular perspective is certainly not the only view of the world.
In the case of the folk-rock band Tempest, this quest for Balance becomes much more literal and, at the same time, much more fundamental: this is not some high-minded concept to these men. Rather, they aim to strike the perfect balance every time they take instrument in hand.
For over a decade, Tempest has forged a path which snakes its way between the traditional folk music of the Celtic nations, and the strong tradition of rock music which calls the entire world its home. They wish to pay homage to their roots, while helping those same roots grow and extend into the future.
“As a band, we’re always trying to strike a perfect balance between folk music and high-energy rock and roll. And on this new studio release, because of choice of material and the way we’ve put it together, we’ve come closer to that than we ever have before.” So says lead-man Leif Sorbye, the voice and one of the principal string-pullers of Tempest. “My first love is traditional music, and as much as I love traditional Celtic and other folk music in its pure form, I feel that in order for it to survive it has to be updated. Otherwise it ends up as a museum piece.”
The fellows in Tempest needn’t worry about becoming a museum piece anytime soon; their blend of Celtic and folk traditions – which somehow seem to instinctively strike a chord with just about every listener, regardless of background – with modern rock sensibilities, is something that very, very few artists are even attempting. And among those who do attempt the interface, none succeed as magnificently as Tempest
On this new album, traditional melodies are fused into the affairs of today with artistry and aplomb. There are three traditional songs to be found on Balance – one from Scotland (“Captain Ward”), one from Ireland (“Two Sisters”), and one from Sorbye’s homeland of Norway (“Villemann”). The rest of the tunes on the disc represent the wonderful alchemy which is unique to Tempest, a modern-day minstrel’s take on traditional folk music. When the poet coined the phrase “everything old is new again,” he might have had something like this in mind.
For Sorbye, one of the band’s goals has always been the blurring of that line between old and new – in other words, the creation of a new sound, a third sound that is distinctly theirs. And on Balance, they have succeeded: “On this record I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been. The barriers are gone – you can’t point at any song and say ‘that’s a Tempest song,’ or ‘that’s a traditional song.’”
Recording an album always presents a unique challenge for Tempest – they are hailed the world over as one of the great live bands, touring constantly, their on-stage energy and presence the stuff of modern-day music legend. So how do you capture that energy when the audience and the stage are replaced by studio walls and a microphone?
“Being in the studio is a different artform,” says Sorbye. “It’s different from being on stage. So what I try to strive for personally is go for feel, rather than being note perfect. If it communicates what I want to communicate, that’s more important than getting the phrasing and the notes perfect. And I think that this new album, in many ways has more life to it than our previous records. When I listen to it, there’s a lot of spunk and life and energy in it.”
Life and energy – hallmarks of the Tempest sound. A perfect balance has been achieved.

credits

released April 24, 2001

LIEF SORBYE - lead vocals, acoustic and electric mandolins and octave mandolas, harmonica, bodhran
ADOLFO LAZO - drums
TODD EVANS - electric and acoustic guitars, harmony vocals
WILLIAM MAXWELL - fretless and fretted basses, bass pedals, keyboards
JIM "HURRICANE" HURLEY - fiddle, riq
With special guest
ROBERT BERRY - B-3 Hammond organ, synthesizer, harmony vocals

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Track Name: Captain Ward
Come all you jolly mariners that love to take a dram
Let’s go and seek for Captain Ward who over the seas has come
He is the greatest robber as you shall quickly hear
There's not been such a robber found this last six hundred years

The King he got a letter on the sixth of January
Saying let bold Captain Ward come in with all his company
If that you do let him in until his tale is told
A ransom he will offer you, a twenty tons of gold

Oh no, no says the king
That can never be
Captain Ward he is a robber
A robber on the sea

Well the king he has provided a ship of noble fame
Called the Royal Rainbow if you would know her name
She was as well provided for as any ship could be
With full five hundred men on board to bear her company

When the Royal Rainbow came where Captain Ward did lie
Who is the master of this ship the Rainbow crew did cry
The same am I says Captain Ward, why ashamed I ne'er will be
If you were the king's fair ship you are welcome unto me

For I never robbed an English ship, just France's ships or Spain's
Likewise the blackguard Dutchman I met upon the main
Oh had I got a letter through this two weeks past or three
I would have spared Lord Essex life, this pains me grievously

Six o'clock in the morning they began to fight
So they did continue 'till nine o'clock at night
Fight on, fight on says Captain Ward, so well it pleases me
If you fight a month or more, your master I will be

Then the Royal Rainbow she fired all in vain
Until four hundred of her crew upon the decks lay slain
Go home, go home says Captain Ward, tell your king from me
He may rule king o'er the land, but Ward is king of sea
Track Name: Dancing Girl
As I walked through town in the middle of the day
I met a girl who'd gone astray
We started drinking good old wine
And that little beauty stole this heart of mine

She looks like a rose that blooms in June
Like a fine mandolin newly put in tune
I sat this girl down on my knee
Said, hey pretty baby come and dance with me

A Dancing Girl will make you blue
Slipped me a Mickey and will do you
All you men come listen to me
A warning take when you go on a spree

I took her hand and she led me to the floor
Began to dance me towards the door
Little while later I wanted to eat
But she kept dancing to the beat

When dancing it was over and the party was done
I must'a' gone t'a sleep with my trousers on
I woke up in a blinding ray
On a fishing boat down by the bay

My head was aching and my feet were sore
The boat was drifting away from the shore
My wallet and my cash was gone
And I was heading for the Great Beyond
Track Name: Iron Lady
Have you seen the Iron Lady's charm?
Legs of steel and leather on her arm?
Taking on a man to die, a life for a life
An eye for an eye
And death's the Iron Lady in the chair

Stop the murders deter the crimes away
Only killing shows killing doesn't pay
Oh that's the kind of law it takes
Even though we make mistakes
And sometimes send the wrong man to the chair

In the Death-Row waiting for their turn
No time to change, not a chance to learn
Waiting for someone to call
Say, "It's over after all"
They won't have to face the justice of the chair

Just before they serve him one last meal
Shave his head, they ask him how he feels
Then the warden comes to say goodbye
Reporters come to watch him die
Watch him as he's strapped into the chair

And the chaplain, he reads the final prayer
"Be brave, my son, the Lord is waiting there"
Oh, murder is so wrong, you see
Both the Bible, and the courts agree
That the state's allowed to murder in the chair

In the courtroom, watch the balance of the scales
If the price is right, there's time for more appeals
The strings are pulled, the switch is stayed
The finest lawyers fees are paid
And a rich man's never died upon the chair
Track Name: Two Sisters
There were two sisters side by side
Sing ay-dum sing ay-day
There were two sisters side by side
The boys are bound for me
There were two sisters side by side
The oldest for young Johnny cried
I'll be true unto my love
If you'll be true to me

Johnny bought the youngest a beaver Hat
The oldest didn't think much of that

Johnny bought the youngest a gay gold ring
He never bought the oldest a single thing

One day as they were walking by the stormy brim
The oldest pushed the young one in

Oh sister, oh sister give me thy hand
and you'll have Johnny and all his land

Oh sister I'll not give you my hand
and I'll have Johnny and all his land

Away she sank and away she swam
until she reached the miller’s dam

The miller he took the gay gold ring
And then he pushed her in again

The miller he was hung by a mountain head
The oldest sister was boiled in lead
Track Name: Wicked Spring
Oh the face of graven Spring
Colors with a blush of new life
Brindled larks comb the air
Happy free of winter’s knife
Every wisp of fragrant fortune
Drifting on the gentle breeze
Takes the weight of frozen days and
We begin to live in ease
Oh the fire of quick’ning Spring.

Gone the ways of metal cold
As the light transforms a moment
Fresh the wind that bends new grass
Clears the mind of chill and torment
Now our voices take a tone of
Verdant heat from growing things
And the timbre of the vision
Scents the spirit in bright rings
Oh the joy of feral spring

Oh the fire of quickening Spring
She will lay my burdens down
Oh the flame of vixen Spring
And I’ll wear the Summer’s crown

So we call into the evening
Laced with sips of shining air
We’ll be home before it’s midnight
Broken petals in our hair
And the light from a silver blade
Playing on the new mown downs
We’ll forget the gelid northers
Dream of summer’s threefold crowns
Oh delights of vixen spring
Track Name: Villemann
Villemann gjekk seg te storan å
hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
for der han ville Gullharpa slå
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna

Villemann gjenge for straumen å stå
Hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
Mesterleg kunne han gullharpa slå
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna

Han leika med lente, han leika med list
Hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
Og fugelen tagna på grønande kvist
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna

Han leika med lente, han leika med gny
Hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
Han leika ho Magnhild av Nøkken’s arm
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna

Men då steig trolli upp or djupaste sjø
Hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
Det gjalla i berg og det runga i sky
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna

Då slo han si harpe til bonns i sin harm
Hei fagraste Lindelauvi alle
For å utvinna krafti av trollenes arm
For de runerne de lyster han å vinna
Track Name: The Journeyman
I am a roving journeyman
I roam from town to town
Whe’er I get a job of work
I’m willing to sit down
With my kit upon my shoulder
And a grafting tool in hand
So round the country I will go
A roving journeyman

And when I came to Exeter
The maidens jumped for joy
Said one unto another maid
Here comes a gallant boy
One treats me to a bottle
Another to a dram
And so the toast goes round, my boys
Here’s a health to the journeyman

I had not been in Exeter
The days were not full three
Before the mayor’s daughter
She fell in love with me
She asked of me to dine with her
She took me by the hand
She plainly told her mother that
She loved a journeyman

Now out on thee, thou silly jade
Such folly speak no more
How can you love a journeyman
You’ve never seen before
Oh mother sweet, I do entreat
I love him all I can
And round the country I will go
With this young journeyman

We need no more to trudge a-foot
We’ll travel coach and pair
And round the country we will go
And travel everywhere
And when we find a job of work
We’ll sit down where we can
So let the toast go round my boys
Here’s health to the journeyman
Track Name: Between Us
Tangle a girl in the thorn of your heart
And need for her will not depart
And as long as the breath still passes through me
I will long for the love of fair Sharon
Skin like the white of the birds in the sky
And midnight her hair and the sea of her eye
Though younger and golden your sister may be
You know that I live to have you

All the long day on the cliff's ragged face
You gather your herbs with agile grace
And in the red twilight you smile at the sea
For you've not learned the news of your sister
Several men came to the cottage below
Soft Claire is lost in the watery glow
And when the wild ocean has come for her own
We must pray for an angel to guide her

When we were children we roamed the white sand
And life was a treasure, coin in our hand
Early I knew you forbidden to wed
And that Claire would be taking my name
Though I well knew you must care for your Da
My heart you had taken, painful flaw
Oh Sharon, your sister was gentle and kind
But your darkness imprisoned my ardor

Ruddy the light as the wind whips your dress
Sleek with spray your hair flies in threads
Soon I will tell you the sobering tale
Of what fate has dealt your sister
Even just now I imagine your eyes
As I cover the truth with the softer lies
I think we can fathom what God meant to be
Or He'd never taken Claire into the sea
Or He'd never have taken Claire into the sea

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