Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Ethereal ectronica, evocative/eclectic alternative pop, with elements of celtic/world/folk. From her site: "romantic pop-ethereal faerie music".
Most recent release, Djinn: Le mystère des chats (2008)
Louisa John-Krol's site
Wikipedia's entry on Louisa John-Krol
Lisa Gerrard / Dead Can Dance, Loreena McKennitt, Maire Brennan, Kate Bush
She is very, very good. To fall in love, just listen to her samples. (email@example.com)
Louisa John-Krol's music is fantastic. The reason I choose that word to describe it is because her songs and lyrics have a strong fantasy and mythological theme to them. On her website Louisa describes her music as "romantic pop-ethereal faerie music". That description suits her music very well. To me she seamlessly fuses elements of Celtic, world, pop, folk and progressive rock into her music.
I first bought her CD Alexandria, which is excellent. However it was her next CD Ariel that floored me. I was truly smitten with the music on Ariel. I still am. It has made it into my Top 100 Favorite CDs (I have over 1500 in my collection). After I first listened to it I played it each night after that for about two weeks straight (which is highly unusual for me).
The reason that I love her music so much is that it encompasses so many elements that I love in music. It is well-crafted, honest, passionate, romantic, dramatic and yet at times very subtle and understated.
As a point of reference, Louisa's voice has similar qualities to Loreena McKennitt, Maire Brennan and maybe Sandy Denny. She is a bit more passionate in her delivery than either Loreena or Maire. Part of the reason that her voice reminds me of Sandy Denny is because Louisa plays mandolin on many of her songs. The combination of Louisa's singing and the mandolin playing reminds me at times of the song "The Battle of Evermore". That song, from Led Zeppelin's fourth album, features a stunning duet by Robert Plant and Sandy Denny. Jimmy Page plays mandolin throughout the song.
The musicianship, arrangements and production on Louisa's recordings are superb. Ariel in particular is a very atmospheric CD and flows through many moods in a very cohesive manner. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What a stunningly beautiful voice Louisa John-Krol has! Alexandria is her second independently produced album, and showcases a talent that demands a much wider audience. As well as singing she plays mandolin, firesticks, chimes, keyboard, chas-chas, spinning marble, guitar and ocarina! Harry Williamson fills out and enhances the music with keyboard, ti-play, bass, tablas, angel-harp and more.
But Louisa's voice is so clear, so pure, like a stream at sunrise, that it may well take your breath away. Some of these songs are, I'm convinced, divinely inspired. When I first downloaded the title track, inspired by a poem by Cavafy, in MP3 format, from the Hyperium website, I knew that I had to investigate this album further. This led me to Louisa's own web site, a place where I gained some insights into her extraordinary life. I also began to learn something of the difficulties and frustrations, that independent artists such as Louisa face in getting their music effectively distributed.
This Australian singer and songwriter is a teacher and natural story-teller, steeped in literature, drawing much of her inspiration from mythology, and poetry. Her songs transport the listener to other times and places, and because of the passion that she puts into the music, these became times and places that I for one found myself wanting to learn more about. I have already ordered my copy of The Collected Works of C. P. Cavafy!
In this regard, I have to liken the experience of Louisa John-Krol's music to that of another great favourite, Loreena McKennitt, whose music stimulates the listener intellectually, spiritually, as well as musically. There is also a healing quality to some of the songs, that almost wrap you in an aural hug!
Call it New Age folk music, if you will, her beautiful voice and powerful messages telling stories and stirring memories of a simpler time. Every track on Alexandria is a delight to be savoured over and over, from the title track "Alexandria", my present favourite, to "Hide in Your Shadow", to "Belamino's Dictionary", to "The Valley of Seven Keys", which are only four of the twelve original songs composed by Louisa John-Krol and her husband Mark Krol. Beauty, grace, passion and excellence are the hallmarks of Alexandria, this wonderful album. (email@example.com)
Both of her CDs are stellar, indeed. Plus, she is a genuine storyteller (for real—she was invited by the Storytelling Guild of Australia to appear with Diane Wolkstein during Diane's 1995-96 Aussie tour, if I remember right; she sang her "Inanna" song and Diane told her own version of the Sumerian epic).
Some extra information on Louisa's CDs: Argo was first issued on Evolving Discs in Victoria (EV0010) in 1996; Alexandria was self-published last year (and with a different cover than the one that graces the Hyperium issue). Only Alexandria had lyrics, and then only for the title song. I have no idea if the Hyperium pressings offer full lyrics on everything.
Do expect to play both CDs a lot.
"Paper Door" sounds like something Annie Haslam would record.... (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Louisa is fantastic! Gorgeous Loreena McKennitt/Kate Bush-type mythological songs. She has been one of my finds of 1999 (and all my friends think so too!) Her albums are equally good. (email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
1998—self-released (Australia)—LJKCD001; 1998—Hyperium (Germany); re-released 2007—Forest of the Fae (U.S.)
See Louisa John-Krol's site
Louisa John-Krol—vocals, mandolin, firesticks, chimes, keyboard, chas-chas, spinning marble, guitar, ocarina
Harry Williamson—keyboards, ti-play, bass, tablas, angel-harp
Louisa John-Krol's Alexandria is an album of gorgeous ethereal folk songs. She has a crystalline voice, and the music dips into middle-eastern territory. Louisa John-Krol is also a professional storyteller, and this aspect comes out in her lyrics, which are fanciful and fairy-tale-ish. Plus, she's a multi-instrumentalist. It's perfect music for dreaming. Very much in the Lisa Gerrard/Kate Bush/Loreena McKennitt vein. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'm not overwhelmed by it, but I like it...I only wish that the liner notes were more extensive. The CD is vaguely like Loreena McKennitt, and might seem more so if there was some commentary on the songs or lyrics included. (email@example.com)
Alexandria is a beautiful and haunting CD. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I recently borrowed this album and found it really beautiful in a vaguely Loreena McKennitt way. (neal)
See Louisa John-Krol's site
Louisa John-Krol—vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar
Andrew Persi—guitar on 1 track
Richard Allison—piano on 1 track
Brett Taylor—darbouka, drums, bell-tree, firesticks, and other
percussions, bass, Chapman Stick, Rickenbacker, 12-string and
nylon-string classical guitar, keyboards, supernova & other effects,
and string arrangement & direction on 1 track
Soundwood Strings on 1 track:
Harry Williamson—Mexican drum on 1 track, tiple, charango,
glissando, angel harp
Lindsay Buckland—second darabuka on 1 track
Breety Taylor, Harry Williamson
I can not praise this recording enough. It is an exquisite masterpiece. It will definitely be the #1 CD on my Best of 2001. It may even break into my Top 100 of all time. I really liked Alexandria, Louisa's previous release. Ariel is even more engaging. All of her work has an overall spiritual quality to it. The mood of Ariel ranges from uplifting to haunting and ethereal. The arrangements are all so beautiful and well thought-out. They are very clever without being the least bit pretentious. The production is also superb. I highly recommend this CD to those Ectophiles who like Loreena McKennitt and Clannad. The arrangements also have elements of the early, classic Moody Blues (mellotron or similar sounding synth strings, flute, cello) and the acoustic, softer side of Led Zeppelin. The latter impression is because of the fact that Louisa plays the mandolin and sings in a similar style to Sandy Denny (who dueted with Robert Plant on "The Battle of Evermore") at times. (email@example.com)
I'm saying this now: Louisa John-Krol's Ariel is the first album to make my personal "Best of 2001" list, even if it has a 2000 copyright. And in more enlightened times, the opening track, "Blackbird," would have "HIT" written all over it...it is that good, and Louisa has every right to be proud of it.
Yesterday I played it for a friend of mine who is a painter/illustrator, and she was fascinated. Very much so. Later she told me that music has a "warming" effect on her garage-turned-studio. And she may be right: I'm in the midst of modeling for what may be a series of portraits, and it's usually chilly in the studio when it's quiet.
There you have it, folks. Get Ariel—no, get every Louisa John-Krol album you can find, put them in your player or CD-changer, and feel the warmth as we edge closer to spring. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I can't add much to all the above comments, i can just second the recommendations. This is good stuff. The comparison that jumps out is definitely with Loreena McKennitt's later oeuvre, but that comparison fades with listening—they share some common sensibility but Louisa is no Loreena clone. Something in her voice occasionally reminds me of Robin Holcomb, something in the timbre on some songs, but it's a pretty faint comparison. One thing i notice about the instrumentation is her nice, light electronic touch—she's got a perfect sense of how much electronica to use and when, to maintain the mood she's crafted. I think her own tagline of "romantic pop-ethereal faerie music" is pretty apt. (damon)
See Louisa John-Krol's site
Daemonia Nymphe, Francesco Banchini (GoR / Ataraxia), Samantha Taylor, Harry Williamson (Faraway), Gianluigi Gasparetti, Olaf Parusel (Stoa)
Louisa John-Krol's new album is her most ecletic yet, and has more in common with Kate Bush, (circa Never for Ever) or Happy Rhodes than it does with Loreena McKennitt, with whom she's often compared. The Renaissance-flavored "The Lily and the Rose," and the stately, Shakespeare-derived "How Should I Your True Love Know?" are the anomalous pieces here. Most of the material here takes finds Louisa John-Krol stretching her wings. The opening "Throng on the Pier" is orchestral pop, similiar in sound to the work Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry explored on Into the Labyrinth and on his solo work. "Paint the Wind" and "Stone Lake" flirt with the straightforward folkpop craft of the Innocence Mission, while "The Seventh Ingress" and "Approaching the Island of Sirens" move into ambient soundscapes. Lyrically, Louisa John-Krol explores fantastical and mythological themes—she uses the texture of fantasy much the same way that Rhodes uses science fiction imagery. "Light on the Wall" is about leading parallel lives, while "Waterwood" uses whimisical fairy imagery (butterflies on bicycles, tambourines in the sea) to describe looking at the world with child-like wonder. The prog-rockish "Me and the Machine" pits our heroine against technology, with a non-Luddite conclusion—complete with computer-generated voices, while "Throng" refers to the Iliad.
At first listen, it appears that Louisa John-Krol has thrown her net and little too far and wide. But her glorious soprano voice is the silver thread that holds this tapestry together. Midway between
Bush and McKennitt, its crystalline purity holds the album together; her voice is the thematic continuity of this collection. Whether whooping like a Bacchante at the end of "Throng," or wordlessly soaring in "Ingress," it never fails to thrill. Her serene vocals bridge the gap between the dreamy acoustics of the Emily Dickinson poem set to music, "The Search for Lost Souls—Midnight" and the wild Björk-esque electronica of the closing "Dancing Over Archeon." With Alabaster, Louisa John-Krol moves to the
forefront of the pantheon of progressive women. (email@example.com)
See Louisa John-Krol's site
Louisa John-Krol—vocals, angel harp, mandolin, harpsichorn, acoustic guitar, clay puppet-feet bells, Tibetan bell, triangle, windchimes, rainstick
Brett Taylor—Wurlitzer, bass, 2nd acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals, Mellotron, piano, synth, string arrangement, melody bells, chiming fruit, drums, other percussion, loops, classical guitar
Harry Williamson—hammer dulcimer on 1 track, synth on 1 track, harp on 1 track, paper drum on 1 track, charango, tiple, and 12-string guitar on 2 tracks
Jenni Heinrich—viola and classical guitar on 1 track
Bronwyn Lloyd—hurdy gurdy on 1 track
Harry Williamson and Brett Taylor
The Scottish folklorist Andrew Lang collected European myths and folktales, retold them for a Victorian audience, and grouped them according to theme and, ultimately, color. Australian singer-songwriter Louisa John-Krol has a background as professional storyteller, and like Lang, has found a common theme, stories of the Green Man, and uses this album to explore a cross-cultural archetype, from the English Robin Hood to the Welsh Atho. The wonderfully whimsical package comes with extensive liner notes, including an essay about the appearances of the Green Man in world mythology. It's a high concept album that sounds pretensions and self-indulgent on paper.
But John-Krol and her cohorts (husband Mark, producers Harry Williamson and Brett Taylor) attempt to evoke her overarching concept through music. Indeed, the lyrics are impressionisticthey are snippets of half-told tales and are sung with such delicacy and precision, they are inseparable from the music. Louisa John-Krol's soprano swoops through pieces that meld folk, progressive pop, electronica and new age in inventive and pleasing ways. After an ethereal invocation of the opening "Atho", the Wurlitzer-heavy "The Windrow" plays like a vintage Jefferson Airplane piece. "Which One of These Worlds?" begins with Laurie Anderson-like processed vocals before descending into propulsive trance electronica. "Spin", and "The Green Pentacle" are medieval folk, with hurdy-gurdy and harp accompanying acoustic guitar. The closing "Kummanngur" is a drone-filled tribal song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Delirium album. One of the pleasures of this album is how the disparate musical set pieces fit together like a puzzle. You can barely see the joinery between the modern touches (synthesizers, drum machines) and archaic instruments, such as dulcimers, violas and harps.
Louisa John-Krol reminds one of Loreena McKennitt and Kate Bush, and like those women, she's a multi-instrumentalist and composer who follows her wild muse wherever it leads her. She does bringer a darker, if not "gothic", aspect to her music that grounds her flights of fancy. This dark, dreamy album is the aural equivalent of the fairytale art of Edmund Dulac and Gustav Dore. (firstname.lastname@example.org)