Shapeshifter

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
With this album, Tempest seem to have completely found themselves. Maybe it's the new lineup, maybe it's maturity. Whatever the reason, it's very satisfying. They've worked their way out of the prog rock cul de sac that they'd been trapped in, and they've also outgrown the Steeleye Span fetish that was a hallmark of their earlier albums. The instrumental work sparkles throughout, and Lief Sørbye's vocals have more punch to them. To be fair, they shine brighter on traditional material like "Tamosher" and "Byker Hill" (a storming version) than on their own work, which is treated a little too gently. Notably, they've expanded from the British tradition to take in old ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
With this album, Tempest seem to have completely found themselves. Maybe it's the new lineup, maybe it's maturity. Whatever the reason, it's very satisfying. They've worked their way out of the prog rock cul de sac that they'd been trapped in, and they've also outgrown the Steeleye Span fetish that was a hallmark of their earlier albums. The instrumental work sparkles throughout, and Lief Sørbye's vocals have more punch to them. To be fair, they shine brighter on traditional material like "Tamosher" and "Byker Hill" (a storming version) than on their own work, which is treated a little too gently. Notably, they've expanded from the British tradition to take in old American songs here ("Old Man at the Mill"), which might offer a way forward for them -- they certainly do it justice. Sue Draheim is a revelation on fiddle, bringing years of playing with her, adding texture and tone. With Shapeshifter, the band does indeed shift shape, breaking out from the Celtic ghetto, while rocking as hard as ever. At the same time, although successful on its own terms, it's impossible to think of this as anything but a transitional record as they head to wherever they're going next.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/20/2003
  • Label: Magna Carta
  • UPC: 026245906624
  • Catalog Number: 59066
  • Sales rank: 333,356

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tempest Primary Artist
Lief Sorbye Mandolin, Vocals, Bodhran, Octave Mandola
Robert Berry Keyboards, Guest Appearance
Sue Draheim Fiddle, Viola, Vocal Harmony
Adolfo Lazo Percussion, Drums
Mark Skowronek Bass, Vocal Harmony
Ronan Carroll Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Technical Credits
Tempest Arranger
Robert Berry Producer, Engineer
Jim Brick Mastering
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great celtic-folk-rock

    Tempest is a celtic-folk-rock band that reminds me of Fairport Convention in its heyday. This is their tenth CD, but the first with this line-up. The CD has cohesiveness, despite several different styles of music. The band really plays as a true ensemble, with leads being shared by the 3 lead instruments (guitar, fiddle, mandolin). It seems like the band has made a conscious effort to get closer to their live sound than previous releases, and this is an excellent decision. After listening several times I realized that I didn't notice the rhythm section. The reason being that the drums (Adolfo Lazo) and bass (Mark Skowronek) play exactly perfectly for each song. Both play interesting parts that never "stand out" because of inappropriateness or over playing. The rhythm section is superb (and I'm a guitarist, so I very seldom give praise to a rhythm section). Adolfo continues to be the heartbeat of the Tempest sound while never getting repetitive or boring. Sue Draheim's fiddle has a very warm and rich sound (production by Robert Berry) that just highlights her beautiful playing. Sue really gets to the heart of the song with her playing and makes the melodies come alive, without overpowering the band. It sounds like Sue used an acoustic violin rather than her electric violin, this really adds to the harmonic resonance, and gives it a depth and warmth. Ronan Carroll is the newest member of the band, and an excellent guitarist. Based on this recording, you would think he'd been in the band for years. His playing varies nicely from melodic and mellow to almost heavy metal sound. Like all members of Tempest, his playing fits the songs exactly as needed without overplaying. Lief Sorbye, the lead vocalist and mandolin player, as always gives a strong and dynamic performance. Lief is one of the few singers who seems to live the song as he sings it. There's an old Incredible String Band song that has the line "You know all the words and you've sung all the notes, but you've never quite learned the sung you've sung". This is NOT the case with Tempest; they seem to have learned the songs very well. The harmony singing on this release is very different than prior Tempest releases due to the two high voices of Sue Draheim and Mark Skowronek. In all cases, the harmonies, really work well in supporting the songs. Of particular note are Tamosher and Cruel Brother. On Winter Night, Mark uses a different register, and it really is a nice counter point to Lief Sorbye's lead vocal. The only weakness I see is in some of the song choices. Some songs work great live, but have a tendency to get stale on repeated listening on CD. The two that I think don't hold up are Old Man At The Mill and Byker Hill. The traditional choices other that the two above are outstanding - Tamosher, Coalminers', Fjellmannjenta and Cruel Brother. The original material - Catalina Island, Natural Law, Carnival and Winter Night – is as strong as the above traditional tunes. There are a few standout tracks. Coalminers' is one of the best instrumental pieces that Tempest has done. Strong melodies, excellent playing. Tamosher and Cruel Brother rank up there with the best of traditional material played by a rock band (think Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, etc.) Winter Night written by Mark is a very pleasant surprise, with a strong tune and good lyrics. The highlight of the original songs was for me - Natural Law, with strong tune and good lyrics, somehow this song just gets me every time. The best track of all, and the only reason you need for buying this CD, is Cruel Brother. At 10 minutes and 5 seconds, it's too short (and very seldom do long tracks justify their length.) Cruel Brother flows from section to section without ever seeming forced. The fiddle moves it along in the beginning, and then the true Tempest ensemble sound takes over, and you don't notice if the melody is played by fiddle mandolin or guitar. Be

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