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Essra Mohawk: Primordial Lovers

Album Reviews:

Mojo (Publisher) (p.116) - "[A] rich, confident collection of soul and gospel-infused songs, extraordinary in 1970, with complex harmonies, dark chords...and unusual use of vibes, oboe and a brass section..."

Album Notes

Primordial Lovers is assured of its status as an unsung classic. All who hear it, and there aren't enough, are bewitched by its esoteric poetry, unguarded passion, and great tunes. No longer buried in the dreadful production of her Sandy Hurvitz disc, Mohawk is a wondrous creature of contrasts: simultaneously urbane and nature-loving, knowing and naïve, all-powerful yet unabashedly vulnerable at the same time. Her voice is a remarkable instrument -- not the shrill piccolo of Joni Mitchell, nor the darker, mesmerising recorder of Laura Nyro, but more a multi-range brass and woodwind hybrid yet to be invented. The songs on Primordial Lovers do not adhere rigidly to conventional ideas of song structure, which is not to say that they aren't catchy -- far from it; they worm their way into the subconscious very quickly. But, in the manner of early Laura Nyro, many of the compositions undergo sudden changes in time signature and are subject to surprising chord progressions that catch the listener unaware. Whether identifying with the elements ("I Am the Breeze"), declaring love ("Lion on the Wing"), or cheering up a depressed friend ("Thunder in the Morning," written for Stephen Stills), Mohawk, armed only with a piano, a few players, and her own vast imagination, finds something worthwhile to say, and says it beautifully. "Thunder in the morning sky reminds me of you/I don't know the reason why but it just does/it just does" might mean nothing in the hands of another artist, but when Mohawk wails the lines with potent sincerity, it's impossible not to believe every word. "I Have Been Here Before," the album's centerpiece, is also its most astonishing moment -- a swirling, narcotic, psychedelic jazz creation powered by a fuller horn section. The song's subject matter -- reincarnation -- is reflected by its own circular structure. Again, only Mohawk could bring conviction to lines like "Green trees/with orange middles/are passing by/the watching eye." Primordial Lovers deserves a place in the record collection of every free-thinking soul. ~ Charles Donovan


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