Kimberly Freeman- Guitar, Banjo, Lead Vocals
Jason “Junior” Rufus Sewell- Drums, Bass, Synths, Organ, Mandolin Backing Vocals, “Ember” sermon
The album “Witches” by One-Eyed Doll was released on the 24th of March. One-Eyed Doll also currently supporting the album with a cross-country tour through May 2015.
I had the opportunity to catch them at the Heart of Texas Rockfest 2015 during the SXSW Music Festival as they swept through the state and across the southern United States. I was fortunate enough to land my hands on the album days before the official release. So to bring home a physical copy of the album was quite the treat. And I’ve been deeply involved with it for the last week and more.
Most recently I took the album with me at an excursion to the grocery store. Plugged into my ears, I listened intently as I browsed up and down the aisles. Being there long enough for me to go through the album in its entirety, twice. Needless to say, it is the only thing I’ve listened to since then.
The complexity of the album grows with each track through the conceptual idea of telling the story of the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria that actually took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.
I even love the fact that the tracks are listed on the back of the CD cover in Roman numerals. Eleven tracks in total. 43 minutes in length. Exactly 43 minutes.
I did read in another article/interview that Kimberly Freeman mentioned that the lyrics are based on historic research from what was saved in Salem, as well as her own point of view from each person that was involved in the hysteria.
The first track “Ember” begins with this somber feeling which transports you back into 17th Century Colonial-American period. A preacher’s voice can be heard victimizing its congregation that the Devil is in fact real.
As it builds and continues right into the second track “Prayer” which takes on a tone of its own. A chilling account of the different main characters of the story being told, with their so-called prayers as they suffer from the situation that has befallen them. The screaming and snarling heard vocally gets your blood pumping and it blows your mind to what it had to be like for the children of Salem to have “suffered” what they went through.
(Personally though, I would like to know if they did or did not sample a part of Walt Disney’s “Snow White” for a line or two behind the music. I could be way off.)
“Black In The Rye” brings One-Eyed Doll back to their usual metal sound. The interesting bit would be the theory of the rye being diseased by something called “Ergot” which has the same properties as the drug LSD. They lived off their land, and the theory could be that the crops were suffering this disease and it could give an explanation as to why the children of Salem were going through their fits of insanity and bewitching. An interesting theory indeed. This track is currently being played live on stage during their current tour.
“More Weight” taken from the actual words of one of the many who were executed for witchcraft. Giles Corey however was pressed to death, having stones laid upon his body until his body was crushed by the weight, rather than hanged like the others. Instead of confessing as his accusers were wanting, he insisted more weight of stones be pressed against him until he finally perished.
So far this is my favorite track on the album. As well as bits from “Prayer.” I find the lyrics to “Prayer” incorporating the different point of views to be totally haunted. Again with “Stillness” the lyrical content has successfully either caused tears to come forth or send shivers up my spine and literally cause me to fall to the floor… of which I am certain that if the 17th Century Puritan ministers would have seen it, would have thought that “I” was bewitched.
Other tracks give off this kind of Blues feeling with the prominent instrument being a banjo. Tracks such as “Remember” and “Stillness” show off the refulgent and undeniable talent of the duo.
Kimberly Freeman’s vocals are spot on and both nostalgic and memorable. Captivating, strong, and very lethal in a sense to be able to tell the story of the entire album track by track. Knowing that “Junior” is basically the band’s “Jack of All Trades” when it comes to musical abilities. He includes his majestic music playing many instruments on the album.
The idea of having a concept album works! With each track like its own chapter of the story, you’re transported away with pleasing music and astonishing story telling by Kimberly Freeman. You spend all of those 43 minutes immersed in your own mind wondering what it would have been like to have been alive during all of the events that took place.
I personally believe that this album will be raising awareness to the story told. A story that is sadly and unfortunately no longer told in schools today, but was in fact discussed during my school days as a youth. Once a person listens to this album, it will cause Internet searches to rise in numbers so that they could earn more information of what honestly happened.
The album is a definite must have. I would score it an actual 103 out of 100, due to the chills and scares it gave me while listening to it sincerely the first time. The tears, the shivers, and the wondering.
Plus, there is no other feeling like getting chills up and down your spine when you listen to music, getting goosebumps, and having the strongest desire to weep while you’re in the bread aisle of the local grocery store.
So whether you are interested in the history of the Salem Witch Trials or just a fan of good music, then don’t hesitate and buy the album. It can be purchased by Standby Records.
You simply cannot pass this album by.