Lindsay Schoolcraft is known for her work with an eclectic menagerie of bands, most notably the pioneers of Gothically poetic Extreme Metal Cradle of Filth and Alt-Rockers Mary and the Black Lamb. Last year she delivered her debut solo album, the Juno nominated Martyr, but this year she’s setting aside the chugging guitars and Rock-n-Roll vibes to explore a whole new element: Folk Music. Her sophomore solo effort, Worlds Away, arrives on Friday, October 9, 2020.
With coronavirus a prevalent part of our lives in 2020, the talented Canadian multi-instrumentalist began a reflective journey through her Gothic Metal past, exploring her oeuvre and reimagining her music in a whole new light. Considering that Schoolcraft has always been open about her love of the electric harp, it’s little surprise that her latest offering flips the script entirely as the musician explores string arrangements that are, more often than not, led by her stunning harp work.
The 11-song Worlds Away was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Tyler Williams (Lutharo, Invicta). A reunion for Schoolcraft and collaborator Rocky Gray (formerly of Evanescence), who co-wrote Martyr and provides electronic beats here, the album also features the talents of Spencer Creaghan (additional spring programming) and violist Dagda. Taking the reins for the collection, Schoolcraft proudly shows off her versatility as she tackles vocals, electric harp, string direction, and co-production. Which is, of course, on top of writing all of the tracks—and this time around, do not expect a record that could sit alongside the likes of HIM.
Worlds Away opens to its titular track, a mélange of delicate harp and Schoolcraft’s whispery vocals. There’s a haunting Loreena McKennitt-like quality to the song, and though Schoolcraft does not travel down the Celtic path, she maintains that beautifully relaxing feel that makes her music a much-needed break from the chaos. That said, it’s easy to see that the initial incarnation of “Saviour” was as a rocker, yet the re-imagined version is its flawless opposite: a gossamer spell, offering a wholly different vibe from the original..
As is the case with the bulk of the collection, there is a cinematic quality to the orchestral maneuvers of “Darkness Falls.” Like the fog enveloping the forest, little cat feet prance across the senses in this gothic fairytale that will enthrall you. All of this as Schoolcraft’s harp twinkles on the Neo-Medieval “Fading Star,” and she plays the fairy in flowing silks on the enchanting “Stranger,” another Martyr holdover. Thanks to the addition of viola, performed by Dagda, the song is given an additional layer that bolsters its impact.
Two additional Martyr compositions appear within: the unapologetic, dark Pop ballad “Where I Fall” and emotional “Dangerous Game.” These are peppered into the mix as Schoolcraft conjures a vocal ballet on “Dance On the Strings,” whose tale of romantic woe features Dagda’s softly weeping viola. Then love goes right on “Your Mind,” with the songbird recognizing the magic of finding your mental and spiritual match.
As the album winds toward its conclusion, Schoolcraft portrays the punctuated delicacy of the theater on “Masquerade,” delivering a strong message, before she ultimately chooses to close everything out with the cinematic epic, “Warn Me.” An offering that originally appeared as a B-side on the “Saviour” single, this is the boldest, most massively layered sound that you will find on Worlds Away—and a superb note to end on.
Truly the only pitfall, if you consider it one, is that just over one-third of the tracks come from Martyr, while others initially appeared elsewhere, most notably Schoolcraft’s 2012 debut solo EP, Rushing Through the Sky. Thus, the die-hard Schoolcraftian has already encountered the bulk of this material throughout the years, though, admittedly, in very different formats. This fact hardly bothers us, as the minimalist approach of Worlds Away, with its nuanced electronic beats and ethereal embrace of Folk Music and Neo Medieval is both inspiring and soothing.
So Cradle of Filth fans be warned: Worlds Away is far more likely to entice fans of the aforementioned Loreena McKennitt, or even the incomparable LEAH, than those that worship at the altar of Filth. And yet we suggest that you not write off this wonderfully enchanting siren’s call, because Cryptic Rock gives Schoolcraft’s sophomore LP 4.5 of 5 stars.