Review – The Emerald Dawn – In Time – by John Wenlock-Smith

This highly impressive album will land in September and is already hotly anticipated and I’m sure will be well received as, over the past few years, this Cornish symphonic prog outfit have been wowing crowds from Penzance to North of the border. Quite rightly so too as they have a unique sound, excellent musicianship and offer music of class and quality. Everything is self-produced and they even do their own artwork, although they have a formidable and talented artist in Tree Stewart who has the ability to create artworks that really draw you into the musical adventure. 

This album is their fifth and, once again, you are taken on a magical musical journey. This journey is about the passage of time and how it goes past so quickly that we should make the most of the time allotted to each of us. The album has just three tracks of eight, fourteen and twenty three minutes in duration. Within these tracks lie much skill and invention, take the track Out Of Time, which combines a haunting graceful piano motif with wah wah guitar lines and elements of world (Arabian music) and jazz rock into a unique melting pot but a pot that cooks up a hearty meal. I could go on and on about how exciting and captivating the middle section is with its complex rhythmic sections showing the depth of talent, imagination and skill the group have and exhibit on this track but I think you are best hearing this for yourself when the album is released in September. You will enjoy the recurring melody that carries the song along so very gracefully. It is simply exceptional. Around all this are floating layers of sumptuous keyboards, a jarring Sax and the fluid guitar runs of Ally Carter. Add the breathy vocals of Tree Stewart, the subtle and solidly inventive bass work of David Greenaway and the sturdy and effective drums of Tom Jackson and you can see that this ensemble really know how to create an atmosphere for sure.  

I really love this track and the sentiments that it addresses, making memories that matter and that can sustain you. As one who is personally afflicted with dementia, this music is important and crucial and much needed, although I suspect most of the western world will fail to appreciate and catch the beauty contained in this album but, for those that do, you will find a veritable pot of gold here. Truly impressive and staggeringly wonderful a real joy to behold, I suggest you reserve your copy now and await your time to hear this masterpiece. 

Timeless is a slow burner of a song that tells of a day too quickly over and a day that never ends, our state of mind exudes the pulse on which our time depends! Which are pretty sobering and honest words really. This is a shorter track, well if you call fourteen minutes short! The final track The March Of Time is about how time waits for no man, it merely marches on, nothing lasts forever except the memories you have saved. Running for just over eight minutes, this is a fabulous conclusion to the journey you have undertaken and this album truly is a journey into enlightenment. I feel it calls us all to be responsible stewards of our own time, to seize the day and also to make the most of our time whilst we can. These are welcome sentiments in a busy modern world where we are always hurrying against the clock and yet never winning, somehow this album is a message to us all. The song works to a strident marching track and has an epic guitar solo at the where Alan channels his inner Gilmour whilst Tree sings behind his playing reciting the line, “As time goes marching on.” 

This is all delivered in style and alongside some really great music which, when you take the album as a whole experience, offers a very profound and moving musical journey. Tome, it’s totally different to their previous albums but with enough in common to let you know who they are. This is a really, really good album with great songs and performances. It is all beautifully produced with glorious artwork and I’m sure the vinyl version will look exquisite but, for us shiny disc lovers, this will do just fine.  

Released 23rd September, 2023.

Pre-orders provisionally open on 4th August, 2023 here:

Merch | The Emerald Dawn (

Review – The Emerald Dawn – To Touch The Sky – by John Wenlock-Smith

To Touch the Sky’ is the fourth and latest CD from The Emerald Dawn following on the heels of their earlier albums, ‘Nocturne’ (2019), ‘Visions’ (2017) and Searching for the Lost Key (2014). I have not heard these previous albums, which is something I really should rectify!

The Emerald Dawn are a four-piece group who play symphonic progressive music, their sound is full and lush, with enough space in the music to allow each member enough room to shine.

‘To Touch the Sky’ has just three tracks, all lengthy and complex. Their own words state that this album is, “A celebration of the voyage towards one’s goal, including the hardships and dangers faced en-route. Beginning with the night, the music depicts the process of walking up and coming to life, a moment of awareness or the experience of being awestruck, then provides the motivation for each traveller to pursue their quest. In the closing 22-minute epic, The Ascent, the metaphor of climbing a mountain can be interpreted as a psychological, spiritual, or physical attainment, just as the listener chooses”. All of which sounds very lofty and idealistic but, is it any good you may ask?

Well, the answer is not immediately clear and will require a degree of listener involvement, your time and possibly some headphones to get the best from this music. Oh, and possibly a glass of your favourite tipple might not go amiss either!

Our journey begins with The Awakening which opens with some strident piano notes and a prominent bass from David Greenaway matching the piano along with swathes of keyboards from Tree Stewart. There are then vocals from Tree, who also echoes the refrain herself. We then move into a very spacious section where keyboards have lots of room and space to evoke their magic before a meaty guitar riff from Ally Carter joins in and the drums of Tom Jackson complete the mix. This section has some rather vibrant and lively guitar and synth lines, sumptuous all around. This all sounds really fabulous and all the time the bass is making its own patterns in the sound while Ally solos away wildly. The song returns to the opening piano motif while Ally lays a guitar line over the top of it all, bringing the piece to an emphatic conclusion. This is a really strong, symphonic and epic piece of music.

The second Track is And I Stood Transfixed and it opens with a solid drumbeat before a gently strummed acoustic guitar segues into the mix. Ally Carter lays down some very Pink Floyd-like guitar lines before switching to sax to play a flurry of notes that are all very evocative and otherworldly sounding. The drums pick up the pace of the song before keyboards enter, laying out a dreamy soundscape with some great bass underpinning it all. Ethereal vocals are added to the mix along with delicate piano notes. This section relates to the Eureka moment in the process of making the journey as thoughts coalesce into tangible activity so that the journey can be started.

The journey from the mind to the heart may only be 18 inches but it is a process we all go through when we are on the cusp of change. This section leads into some ominous guitar chords and tones as the piece takes a heavier stance with more random sounding saxophone notes being played. Calm is then restored as we are rewarded by a synthesizer solo from Tree Stewart whilst the rhythm section continue their own journey. This is all very spacious sounding and everyone is really working together to move this song along. A lovely bass line is played throughout by David Greenaway before Ally’s guitar once again takes flight, playing another Floydian type break, while Greenaway plays on before this epic song is ended with delicate keyboards and then total silence.

The last, and longest track, is The Ascent in which we start to ascend the mountain that lies before us. Whether this is a literal or figurative mountain is up to the listener to determine for themselves. The song opens with keyboard generated soundscapes in which one can imagine the mountain with the sun shining and clouds at the top. A piano and flute are then heard and flute and it all sounds very open before we get a searing guitar solo from Ally, very Andy Latimer sounding in both style and tone, before the keyboards return once again and Tree’s vocal begins.

The lyrics in the booklet will guide us as the ascent of the mountain begins, they tell us of the dangers you may face on the way. This song really gets to grips with the concept and the music makes it own journey through peaks and troughs of expectations and disappointments on the way. Another guitar break from Ally represents an eagle soaring effortlessly on the thermals as we continue to climb, the wind and the clouds move in and we get engulfed in a blizzard as we take a steady, onwards step.

We are lost in a whiteout, snow everywhere, and we cannot find the right direction to go forward, the music continuing hesitantly as we continue searching for the right path, the one that will take us higher. We sense the need to keep going, to risk death, and we proceed, once again, to the last ascent.

Ally’s guitar takes us onwards and upwards as the winds die down. The clouds part and we can see it; the summit! We’ve made it, we have achieved our goal. There is a palpable sense of relief in this section although we still have the downward journey to take us back to where we started from. Although we are invigorated again with a sense of completion as we have overcome the mountain and succeeded in the challenge it posed to us. We then enter a quieter passage as we make our descent. This song makes sense with the lyrics at hand and is a remarkable audio journey that The Emerald Dawn offer you to take with them.

This album will require your concentration but the rewards are many and exceedingly plentiful. There is much fine music here with some great passages and really fine ensemble performances from. ‘To Touch the Sky’ is a real pleasure to listen to and you can really absorb this music for yourself, I highly recommend that you support their efforts.

Released 20th March, 2021

Order from bandcamp here:

To Touch the Sky | The Emerald Dawn (