#Album Reviews

“This is a spectacular subject for a musical album, and one rarely treated in that form. The Dolmen make the result work really well, alternating bulletins of real history with the kind of electric folk, from high-energy dance to lament, which the band has always played to perfection. I felt both entertained and moved: it seemed at times as though a real voice was being given to the dead.”

Professor Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol

“An atmospheric and authentic musical recreation of a turbulent siege of the Westcountry.”

Steve Knightley, Show of Hands

“The Crabchurch Conspiracy by The Dolmen presents a foray deep into Civil War country. A wonderful mix of storytelling and song , the album focus moves gracefully between the personal tale and the public knowledge of the period . The jiggery folkery and clever use of spoken word and sound effects combine to draw the listener into a fantastic world of musket smoke and music. At times it manages to sound like it was recorded ‘live in 1645.’……This is a CD for musician, historian and campfire beer swillers alike. I hope someone commissions it as TV drama. The pictures it already creates are colourful and dramatic enough to demand this. Well done to all concerned. An Uncivil Civil War Triumph.”

Rev Hammer, musician

“A band that have been expanding and honing their sound over the last 16 years, Dorset folk-rockers The Dolmen have moved bravely forward with their new album “Crabchurch Conspiracy”. In fact to call it simply an album is to underplay its ambition and scope, making use as it does of spoken word and dramatic atmospherics as well as music and lyrics. The result is a multi-layered experience, moving the listener between historical documentary and soul-stirring music.

‘The Crabchurch Conspiracy’ takes its name from a book by Dorset author Mark Vine, and retells a vital and fascinating part of the county’s history during the English Civil War. The story of the Roundhead soldiers who defended Melcombe and Weymouth in 1645 is seamlessly woven together by a combination of narration and self-penned songs. What could be fragmented or laboured in less capable hands is instead fluid and continuous, taking the listener on a journey rather than a classroom lecture. Extended instrumental sections employing ‘traditional’ instruments such as fiddle, bodhran and crumhorn enhance this experience further, as do the background atmospherics of soldiers in the field.

Great folk music achieves what much popular music fails to – a genuine identification with human emotion and ideation, whether of individuals or archetypes, as well as the time and place in which they are set. “Crabchurch Conspiracy” successfully meets this challenge, achieving historical accuracy, emotional reflection and idealism instead of dry scholarship, cliché or naivety. This is a testament to the band’s obvious attachment to the subject matter and is exemplified by singer Taloch, whose voice imbues each song with authority and authenticity. The plight of the common man is starkly and sympathetically portrayed, and a voice given to civilians, Royalist soldiers and Irish mercenaries as well as the main subjects. As a result it honestly represents the human condition in all its forms, exposing brutality, frailty and loss as well as bravery and idealism. These themes are reflected in the diversity of songs, ranging from introspective ballads like “Lost Years” to rabble-rousing, tub-thumping anthems such as “Good Old Cause” and “Follow the Drum”. These latter two whisk you away into a world of marching regiments and raised standards, and could easily pass for authentic militia songs of the time.

“Crabchurch Conspiracy” is indeed an ambitious effort, but the Dolmen prove they have the skill, passion and connection to make a success of it. Radical historians will delight in seeing Levellers and Royalist traitors brought to life, musicians will admire the craft behind the songs and lyrics.

In an era where culture and identity are increasingly supplanted by property prices and celebrity, this is a welcome reminder of who we are and where we came from…”

Kevin Davis, Bristol Radical History Group

“As a lover of our Heritage, and one for good song ‘The Crabchuch Conspiracy by The Dolmen’ has been a complete joy to listen to. It blends the story of 1645 with The Dolmens lively blend of Celtic rock and sea shanties. Professor Ronald Hutton’s narration accompanied by Taloch’s vocal, and great production make it a very emotive interpretation of this moment in Dorset’s history. The Passion from all involved in this album is clear as it takes you on a journey, that for a true son of Weymouth becomes very personal.”

Dave Goulden (Presenter, Dorset’s Wessex FM Radio)

“As Commanding Officer of Sydenhams ECWS company the album is also very close to my heart.

Its sheer roller coaster of emotion and power. This is something very special and more than an album. Keith’s voice is superb for the telling of such an important story of courage and sacrifice of the Sydenham family and people who lost all in the 17th century.

Best listened too after hanging a do not disturb sign on your door, turn off your phone, put on your head phones and lose yourself in the 17th century. To all who have worked on this album THANK YOU.”

Steve Piper, English Civil War Society