Last time I reviewed a Legend of Zelda cover album, I was disappointed. I wanted more passion and creativity. I wanted to feel the energy and taste it in every note.
Well, good news for me! Taylor Davis hits the mark!
Each track in ViolinTay’s album Melodies of Hyrule: Music from The Legend of Zelda is seeping with passion and creativity. I can feel it in both her playing and her writing. She’s not the best violinist in terms of technical skill. I can hear it, as someone who’s played violin for twelve years; my partner can hear it, as someone who can’t sing on key; and even Davis herself admits it on her website. But she’s obviously having so much fun, playing so passionately, and rearranging in such new and creative ways, that it doesn’t even matter that she misses notes and squeaks sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong: Davis can be technically amazing when she wants to be. She hits all the notes in “Bolero of Fire,” a track that shows off her creativity to the max. I always want rearrangers to do something more with short, awesome tracks like the ocarina songs, and Davis does an astounding job. She’s obviously having a lot of fun, too, as she improvises and jams (if you want to hear more of that, definitely check out “Kokiri Forest”), and that excitement is contagious. She thinks that it’s more important that the listener is pumped up and excited than it is for her to hit every single note, and I couldn’t agree more.
Davis isn’t hype all the time, though. She knows when to chill out, like in “Sheik’s Theme,” which she transforms into even more of a lullaby than “Zelda’s Lullaby.” I never much cared for this song… until I heard this cover. Another strength of “Sheik’s Theme” is the choice of instrumentation and harmony in the backing accompaniment. She jazzes it up with piano, snazzy drums, and electric bass. Her creativity extends from her violin rearrangements to her backing accompaniment, not only in “Sheik’s Theme,” but also in “Song of Time and Song of Storms,” “Nocturne of Shadow,” and “Serenade of Water.”
Well, I can’t write a review without including both low points and high points. I have to admit that I was disappointed with a couple songs. So much of what makes “Dragon Roost” awesome is its fast tempo, but she puts the energy in her backing accompaniment while she plays long, drawn out notes. Also, she only includes one song from Windwaker in the album, even though there’s a violin in both the menu song and the opening song. Similarly, she includes only one song from Twilight Princess, “Midna’s Lament,” which actually works pretty well with a violin-piano arrangement (she also includes only one song from Skyward Sword, “Ballad of the Goddess”, but I’m okay with that, since that song is the one redeeming quality of that game). The album is called Music from the Legend of Zelda, not Music from Mostly Ocarina of Time Plus A Few Other Zelda Games.
That small criticism really isn’t enough to deter me away from this album. I’m gushing, I know. If you heard the Rhythm Encounter podcast with Davis, you can hear my fellow editors gushing over her, too. And after hearing this album, I’ve joined the club.