A Dancer's Review of the Kvester Melkk Quintet Part I (2007)

Let's get one thing straight. I'd much rather be dancing to this music than writing about it. Now I'm not one of those who believe the American Bandstand theory of "it has a good beat and you can dance to it", relegating any dance music as inferior and not as important as more "serious" music. To me, the most important thing in a song is does it move me? And the biggest compliment a listener can give to the musician artist is does it move me enough to actually get up and move. Now I know not everyone can get up and dance a jig, a skip, a waltz, or do the chug (it's getting harder for me to, but there gonna take me kicking and screaming) but there's not a whole lot of other feelings more enjoyable than dancing to great music and becoming a part of the atmosphere created by the musician. And atmosphere is certainly created by the two principals of this band who pen the majority of tunes recorded. The Quintet has now recorded 7 albums, starting in 2003 with A Kaleidoscope of Donovan. Donovan being the catalyst that brought them together. Davy McGowan writes poems and Jore Heikkilä composes the music to go with them is their normal way of collaborating. It is believed they work separately. Davy is able to write poems on demand (give him 5 words and he'll make a poem out of it) and says he has no idea where all these poems come from. Jore, in addition to putting just the perfect melody to the poem, acts as the "George Martin" of the group mixing the tracks and hosting the recordings in his studio in Parola, Finland. Davy sings lead on the majority of songs and Jore provides great harmony vocals.

In 2003, Davy and Jore got together and did a bunch of Donovan covers which ended up being the first Quintet album. The songs are competently done by two guys having a good time and learning to work with each other. It wasn't meant to be their finest effort, just a musical meeting of the team.

HMS Taavi was recorded in August/September, 2004. 32 songs, all penned by the J/D team and their first effort in this band at collaboration. All the songs are good with several giving notice of things to come. Standout songs (for me) are Emma's Box, Life (a very poignant song with the lyric "the best thing we can do in life is lighten each others load" - a nice sentiment), and Fried Porcupine, a great marriage of music to lyric.

Weight of Memory was recorded the same month as HMS Taavi, August, 2004 and surprisingly has only 3 songs from the J/D team, but what songs they are. The Girl I Had To Leave Behind breaks the mold of music put to lyrics and instead Davy wrote the words to fit the music. Absolutely a gorgeous song with a rolling lilt giving the dancer a nice, light skipping song to move to. The second of their songs is The Open Road, a simple song but very moving. Another skipping song but this time with a bit more of a bounce. The Calton Weaver is a song based on another song, Nancy Whiskey. This is a proud reverse waltz. These three songs end the album and was the first from this band that had me up and moving. The first nine songs are all covers starting with Dirty Old Town. Davy has recorded this McColl tune several times before (on his solo albums) and each time it's a little different. This time Jore adds a great harmony vocal and Davy has a nice harmonica solo in the middle. To satisfy Davy's request who feels a review needs to contain some criticism... Bottle Of Wine, the old Paxton tune brought to the top 40 by The Fireballs, lacks energy on the vocal. The kazoo at the end has more energy. I figure his lack is due to his fondness for other alcoholic drinks rather than wine. A great cover of Rafferty's Rick Rack is next with a great arrangement and great vocals from both Davy and Jore. A great chug song (for those dancers out there). One consistent on this album is the great harmony vocals by Jore and Mary Skeffington is another great example. Nijinsky Hind is not a favorite - I don't like this Bolan tune with its plodding feel. The boys perform it well, I just don't like the melody. Now come two traditional tunes. Twa Corbies is a great song which has a hesitant drag without slowing down the song because both the vocal and guitar move it along. My favorite cover song from this album is Courtin' In The Kitchen. The infectious fun in this song has to have everyone at least tapping their feet. For me, I'm skipping around the room. Davy's vocal is superb. With songs like this these guys should be famous. A great album.

Colleen Beilby, USA