Demo and live previews:
To be released in December 2017, Enchanted Forest is the second studio album from Tasmanian troubadour Jesse McCormack. The culmination of almost a decade of composing, networking, research, and imagining, Enchanted Forest features an eclectic fusion of sound created by Jesse’s rhythmic enthusiasm, harmonious passion, and penchant for the unconventional, supported by an impressive line-up of guest musicians from London, Melbourne, and all over his native Tasmania.
Unlike the almost exclusively traditional Irish material on his debut recording The Day Before the Fair, the new album features a tracklist with songs and tunes taken from a much wider variety of sources. Although there are still plenty of folk ballads for the traditional music enthusiast to enjoy – including a reworked version of My Lagan Love dramatically different to the version that appears on Fair – they are meticulously woven between covers of works by pop singers, famous family bands, and some of the more bardic artists of the Canadian folk music scene, as well as a sizeable selection of tracks composed by Jesse himself. The variety of songs and tunes is matched by their arrangements: elements of contemporary Celtic folk are reassembled in a pop-rock style and flavoured with shamanistic tribal beats or magical counter-melodies, and occasional subtle hints of the grandeur of a classical string ensemble, the edginess of traditional Nordic fiddling, or the groove of jazz chords.
Despite this diversity, there is in fact a common thread running through all thirteen tracks on the album. They are all somehow connected to fantasy, mythology, history, and the human imagination, and the CD packaging has been created with this in mind: mythological creatures dance in a forest clearing by moonlight on the front cover, and the disc, lyric booklet, and inside panels are richly adorned with the dendrolatrous photography of Tasmanian multimedia artist and black metal vocalist Josh Gee, and the mysterious drawings of German fantasy illustrator Martin Kepler. The fantasy-themed visual art of the album represents the incredible potential of the human imagination, for which the title of the entire project itself is a metaphor. This evokes the notion that the impossible may occur: within these songs and tunes, sceptics of romance will fall head-over-heels in love, sweethearts and old friends will be reunited, fairies and other magical creatures will meddle in human affairs, victories beyond hope will be achieved, and the yearning for peace and contentment just might be fulfilled.
Musicians: Jesse McCormack (vocals, keyboard, tin/low whistles, Celtic bouzouki, bass guitar, dumbeg, ukulele), Emily Sheppard (violin, viola), Alastair Hawkins (electric guitar, 12-string guitar, bass guitar), Jo Quail (electric cello), Josef Bound (drums), Claire Patti (harp), Merrily Hansen (vocals, flute), Ginger Hansen (vocals).
Produced, Arranged, and Recorded by Jesse McCormack. Additional arranging by Emily Sheppard and Claire Patti. Mixed by Paul Anstey. Mastered by Bob Macciochi.
Principal photography by Josh Gee. Additional photography and photomanipulation by Jesse McCormack. Illustration by Martin Kepler. Mythical creature models: Kristoffer Ljungdahl, Towe Gustavsson, Nick Knowles, Jahn Walters, Laurence Farr. Costume design by Jesse McCormack and Patricia McCormack.