Galley Beggar – “Heathen Hymns” (2017)


Label: Rise Above Records

Review by Warren Mayocchi
Looking at the album cover for “Heathen Hymns” gives a distinct impression of what one will hear when the album is played. It blends psychedelically decorated trees, the cycling moon, and a ring of barefoot women all within a Led Zeppelin‘s Houses of the Holy colour scheme. Then there is the album title – “Heathen Hymns” – it furthers the idea of what this album will be. Listening to Galley Beggar deliver their fourth album, the expectations created by the imagery of the album art are met with the delivery of a whirling folk rock experience. The music has a tone which is reminiscent of The Doors, or the folkish side of Led Zeppelin, or “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. Instruments used include (generally) acoustic sounding guitars, mandolin, violin, bass, and percussion. Lead guitar fits into this so well it is an effort to remember it is played electrically. The vocals here are ‘only’ another instrument which are added at times. The vocal style is relaxed to the point it tends to the spoken word at times. It really compliments the instrumentals, neither dominate the songs – which is great, I love the extended instrumental sections which are great by themselves, but they highlight the vocals when they enter. Lyrically the songs are a mixture of simple rhymes and dreamlike imagery. Consider, “From my calling I was swayed/My senses were awoken/Into shadow I have strayed/Love had left me broken/Love and hate are woven fine/Delicate and even/Clothing for the soul divine/Comfort for the bleeding”. Overall, the band mix it up well throughout the album, each song has a distinct personality, but there is a definite groove which binds them all together. The music video for “Moon and Tide” [here] will give the viewer a good sample of what the band offer. My favourite tracks offer hypnotic repetition along with interesting rhythm variations. “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, “My Return” and the funky “Four Birds” are fantastic. It is hard to pick from them, and while I do not love every track, where the album shines, the moon is full. Heathen Hymns” is an album for anyone who appreciates a well-constructed ramble across the desert at midnight with regular excursions through a misty forest.

Rating – 84/100



  1. Salome
  2. Four Birds
  3. The Girl I Left Behind Me
  4. The Lake
  5. Lorelei
  6. Moon and Tide
  7. Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
  8. My Return


Line Up

  • Maria O’Donnell – Vocals
  • David Ellis – Guitars, Mandolin
  • Mat Fowler – Guitars, Mandolin, Vocals
  • Celine Marshall – Violin
  • Bill Lynn – Bass
  • Paul Dadswell – Drums, Percussion, Vocals

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