I first heard about Scarlet's Well when they played at The Luminaire round the corner from here in Kilburn back in June 2004 with The Jazz butcher opening for them. At that gig they performed as a 9 piece with 4 singers who were memorable for being a bit of an out their and at times all over the place performance. Having never managed to find any Scarlet's Well records I was a bit surprised to read in the press release that they put out a total of 7 albums that these songs are taken from.
For anyone who haven't heard of Scarlet's Well they were the band that Bid from The Monochrome Set formed in 1998 and based in and around Mousseron as Bid describes it "a sickly village situated somewhere east of the Azores and only slightly north of the Styx" The band had a revolving door line up that at times included Orson Prescence from The Monochrome Set. This album is a good introduction into the world of Scarlet's Well.
The album opens with Sweetmeat a very gently strummed song that features Bid singing a song of yearning as some strings gently well up and fade away.
Willy Whispers is a duet with Bid and one of the bands many female singers that feels like Belle And Sebastian crossed with Scott Walker but with a far more libidinous edge to the lyrics and some wonderfully odd musical interludes.
The Captain's Song sounds like a Noel Coward style sea shanty being sung by Viv Stanshall with wonderfully dark and almost disturbing lyrics wonderfully odd and out there.
Isle Of The Blue Flowers has a glorious twee pop feel to it like you are meant to be sitting on a beach listening to it as the laid back nature of the song washes over you as you finally tune into the lyrics and sit bolt upright and have a light bulb moment that this is a very interesting little tale.
Dark Dreams Aboard The Hesperus is the tale of what the female Captain gets up too over an almost chanson style sea shanty like Francoise Hardy with a Spanish Cajun twist.
Lord Fishgarlic's Last Expedition is an odd title and an odd tale of what the Lord gets up too, that has a little bit of a fado/flamenco edge to it, as the tale of what happened to Lord Fishgarlic with that Shamen is quite a tale.
Night Of The Macaw has a well odd chorus of Peanut, Peanut, Peanut, Peanut island that sort of jars against the rest of the cool almost Swing Out Sister style backing and song.
The Ballad Of Johnny Freak is quite a tale and has some really interesting bass and acoustic guitar parts along with some very Sandy Denny or Linda Thompson style vocals.
The Dream Spider Of The Laughing Horse has Bid back on the lead vocals for a very involved tale with so much going on in the music that it needs multiple listens to get to the heart both of the music and the lyrics.
Big Dipper On The Spearman's Floor is full of Mermaids and all sorts of other weird imagery of what's happening on the Spearman' floor against the chanson goes flamenco style backing.
Savage sounds a bit like The Divine Comedy gone off on one. Black Tulip Wings is gently evocative and a tale of caution against what might happen.
Golden, It Is, Beautiful again reminds me of Belle & Sebastian or The Young Marble Giants and with some good squelchy guitar against the as ever involving sea-based lyrics.
My Little Doll sounds like there in a hurry and flies along with so many layers to the guitars and organ as we try to work out what makes her cough and what all the mirth is about and why it leads to that snare drum solo at the end.
Supernatural Services has some very 60's sounding keyboards that get superseded by the guitars and otherworldly stuff going on as the tale within sort of unfolds.
The album closes with The Vampires Song that sounds like the sort of Ballad Mickey Newbury might sing but of course this goes off at a few tangents and as gentle as it is musically there is still all sorts of stuff going on and a good way to close a very cool and interesting album from a much overlooked band.
Find out more at https://www.tapeterecords.de/artists/scarlets-well/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/14113760577/