Album review: Constantine – Fables

Album artwork by Stephen Titra 

Words by Lady Godiva

Far far away, down the rabbit hole, lives a mystic bard named Constantine. This storyteller has been sharing his epic wanderings in magical lands filled with castles and spells. After the fall of the kingdom he narrated at the tail end of his previous effort, he drifted to a new abode in the middle of the forest which is the backdrop of his third solo record. 

How immersive is his new album’s artwork! Sepia tones that look straight out of an old scrawl, a house which could be made out of gingerbread, a bushy tailed fox that welcomes you at the garden gate and a piper with his flute, lurking about, who is our spirited troubadour. The introductory track to Fables lures you further. “Did you see the dreamer under the shady tree? Fill his head with poems and sip a cup of tea.”

“The Witchwood” slowly but surely lets the listener in, oozing eerie vibrations that set the overall tone of the record, oscillating somewhere between darkness and whimsy. Constantine’s picturesque depictions make his Fables gripping and engrossing, even endowing his tunes with a cinematic aspect. “She Waits” casts spells metaphorically, unveiling the alchemist and shamanic abilities of the songwriter, increased tenfold by a piper’s flute. One may catch a glimpse of Donovan’s shadow as the pied piper’s inspiration. The further one goes through the tracks, the more one is hooked and slowly turned into one of its elements, be it a flower or a critter. You are part and parcel of the story, for better or for worse. 

“First Day of May”, which for pagans symbolizes Beltane, halfway between spring and summer, is a love letter to nature and a reminder of its magical powers and how it reflects growth with its natural cycles, mother earth being the ultimate wisdom. A clock chimes suddenly and rather loud, catching you off guard, which once again adds a spooky dimension to the narrative. 

“The Shire” keeps shining a light on the witch while that hypnotic flute keeps playing with our minds.The lyrics all along the record are tailor made and seep into your psyche, very hypnotically, as though one was daydreaming listening to them. 

“Knight & the Primrose” is the ultimate medieval tapestry and cannot be overlooked with its detailed pristineness that operates like a time machine, echoing a lot of Constantine’s previous record In Memory of a Summer Day. While the latter was primarily a daytime record, Fables evokes night as much as day. “Little Road” captures all the quintessential ingredients of an otherworldly tale while initially covering its tracks with an acoustic guitar in the vein of Neil Young & Crazy Horse circa 1970, tallying a scintillating noise and a wind blowing so hard it could  chill your bones, adorning a flourishing kind of nursery rhyme. This is literally a work of goldsmith wizardry. 

“Fox’s Fable”, the penultimate tune on the record is a momentous and baroque number that puts the finishing touches to the album’s whole spectrum and magnitude. Those three last tunes prior to the conclusion make a stupendous triptych that reaches a steady and flamboyant pinnacle. 

Fables is a peculiarly enchanted land transposed and magnified into a full mosaic one will care to revisit many times, experiencing the clever tricks poet Constantine has up his sleeves. 

Fables was released February 2023 and is available from Bandcamp


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