The Hidden Door by Ted Nasmith
Ted Nasmith’s distinctive artwork is instantly recognizable to most fans of JRR Tolkien and his writings. His vast, panoramic, breathtaking landscapes seem to bring Middle-earth to life right before your eyes.
I was recently surprised (and pleased) to discover that Ted’s talents extend beyond oils and acrylics. He is also an amateur musician and singer who has performed his Tolkien-inspired compositions at fan gatherings for several years.
The Hidden Door is an album of twelve songs which, according to Nasmith, “are songs most closely associated with my Tolkien artwork”. The song titles leave little doubt that the majority of them are Tolkien-inspired:
- Leaving the Shire
- Where Beauty Dwells
- To the Sea
- A King There Was
- River Daughter
- When Evening in the Shire was Grey
- Rainbows in the Sun
- To the Woody End
- Dying Embers
- The Hidden Door
Several have lyrics adapted directly from the poetry of Tolkien. A few are more personal and not directly related to Tolkien at all, though all the songs seem to be at least influenced by Middle-earth.
I was pleasantly surprised on my first listen through The Hidden Door. Not because I had set the bar low, but because I wasn’t certain what to expect. My personal taste in music – particularly Tolkien-inspired music – leans toward folk-style, acoustic arrangements. Heavy metal and rock versions of Tolkien-inspired music seem antithetical to Tolkien’s pastoral and primitive world.
The Hidden Door is subtitled “Songs in the Key of Enchantment”, and this is the type of gentle, otherworldly sound that Nasmith evokes. Nasmith’s arrangements are spare and melodic. Acoustic guitars, recorders, and flutes form the background to Nasmith’s soft voice and Tolkienesque lyrics.
At first the lyrics to a few of the songs sound somewhat awkward, as they often do when lyrics are based upon a work of literature. But the songs, and the lyrics, seemed to grow on me with each listen. The sound is reminiscent, in many ways, of the Brobdignagian Bards’ Tolkien-inspired album from a few years back, Memories of Middle Earth, though Nasmith is a more talented vocalist.
As with most themed albums, some songs are much more effective at striking the desired chord in the listener than others. The enchantment and Tolkienien beauty is most in evidence on “To The Sea” and “When Evening in the Shire was Grey”, two of the songs adapted directly from Tolkien’s own poetry. “Beruthiel” and “To the Woody End” are strong representatives of the album, while “Rainbows in the Sun” seemed rather flat.
The Hidden Door is an excellent addition to the very short shelf of traditional, Tolkien-inspired music and an ideal companion to your next trek through the Shire, or just a relaxing afternoon with the windows open and birds singing.