The Loafing Heroes’ fifth album, The Baron in the Trees is produced by maestro Tadklimp, with the vagabonding cosmopolitan group continuing to fuse folk music with poetry, world music and pop, and seamlessly weaving violin, double bass, piano, bass clarinet and trumpet, amongst others.
The album begins with their first single O Outro Lado which is a natural starting point in the wake of their previous album Crossing the Threshold. We are now on the other side of things: in a space of dreamtime, multiple colours, death and the unknown adventure, with the band playing with full maturity and expansive beauty accompanied by visionary lyrics from Bartholomew Ryan. Giulia Gallina makes a haunting debut with lead vocals for the second track, Gypsy Waltz, which embraces subversive witchlike ways of an autumnal night. The third track, Collapsing Star, written by Michael Hall who passed away in 2013, continues a pervading theme of chaos and cosmos and has all the hallmarks of a slowed down pop classic; while the catchy Crossing Roads celebrates the transformations and inspiration from complex friendships. Side One ends with Loyal to your Killer, a startling image and window into the destructive side of love, with some beautiful violin playing by Judith Retzlik.
Gates of Gloom, driven by João Tordo’s rich double bass and, and together with trumpet and electric guitar is the most danceable track on the album, showing that the band are capable of playing rock’n’roll. The eighth track, Caitlin Maude, with Gallina taking lead vocals again, is a smoky, jazzy ode to the feisty Irish language poet from Connemara, with some delicious bass clarinet from Jaime McGill and trumpet from Retzlik. Soul is almost childlike in the way it swings, effortlessly dealing with the recycling of all things and the void that is all around us. This is followed by the heartbreaking and desolate God's Spies, which returns the band to their folk roots in remembering a fallen and beautiful friend who once played with them. The album closes on a musical and lyrical high - with the enigmatic and majestic Javali, combining the yin and yang of The Loafing Heroes - that of fading away and renewal.