There's a purity in the vocals and instrumentation here that pulls you in from the jaunty opening tune of Let Me Know followed by the haunting and delicious harmonising on Awake. You'll find plenty of mood, atmosphere and intricacies of sound throughout this album, crossing the genres of folk, blues and rock, for it to grow on you with each listen. There is so much to admire here from two women who are really excelling at their craft. On this 'Blood Speaks' album the music certainly does the talking with an authenticity a million miles from the world of manufactured pop. This is music with the qualities to endure.
By the time Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire received the publicity boost of a Jack White endorsement in 2009, they'd already been refining their sound together for a decade. Blood Speaks shows exactly that - a highly polished product.
Elements from first album 'Through Low Light And Trees' remain key in the Fairies newest offering; minor key laments on which their voices entwine elegantly around guitars. However, this second offering presents a hardened Smoke Fairies.
Album opener "Let Me Know" is gripped by self-possession ("my destruction is mine to own") and lust ("I see you coming like a weight of bricks/ 'Cause I wanna kiss you after we call it quits"). Second track "Awake" exquisitely unleashes the Jessica and Katherine's darker side. "On a day like this, I fight through the city I live in/ Hope that there's something left to give to you," goes "Hideaway", the line riding out shivering guitar and grinding bass.
"Blood Speaks" brushes away the 'difficult second album' and delivers an album that is as powerful as it is beautiful.
Though not as good as the previous album ('Through Low Light and Trees'), 'Blood Speaks' sees the Smoke Fairies (duo Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies) honing their song-writing and musical skills. There is not much here that is radically new for them, with the exception perhaps of the title track, whose multi-tracked choral parts reminded me at times of the voice arrangement on Steve Reich’s 'Tehillim'. There are swampy slide-guitar-driven numbers reminiscent of tunes on 'Low Light' and the compilation 'Ghosts', and more delicate duets that hark back to 'Strange the Things' (their disavowed pre-debut album). And just occasionally they lapse into 70s rock cliché. But the playing show Blamire and Davies to have gelled to a greater degree with their backing band, though oddly Neil Walsh’s viola is less prominent than on earlier outings. Having said all this, Blood Speaks is still a very good album, and one that I continue to listen to with enjoyment some months after first acquiring it. But perhaps a greater lapse of time between this and the next one might see them pushing the boundaries of their sound a little further.
I saw the Fairies live for record store day in 2012 in Soho and I was immediately hooked. Their style is melodious and direct, they are genuine and skilled and their songs speak directly to the heart of things. They have a passion for acoustic sound - they also recorded an acoustic set - and the songs are infused with an acoustic sensitivity that emerges - in the record as well as in the live set. The rest of the band provides an energetic support to the songs of this album. Have a look at the the video Let me know - shot on a rooftop a la Beatles/U2. Warming acoustic sound that makes you smile.
I've loved most of the Smoke Fairies' output to date and this is another fantastic disk! Even I, as a fan, have to say that it has a certain static atmosphere to it, but for me that's a positive thing. All of the SF trademarks are here: Moody guitar noodlings, thick, warm harmony vocals, some surprisingly rocky bits that made me think of early Neil Young for some reason... If you look for it, there's a double CD version around that has even more to offer, but the single album version is to be recommended for both the fan and the newcomer. I can hardly wait to see what's coming next!!!
This is a very good album,great songs,lovely vocal harmonies,and some wonderful muscianship.It is a more consistent album than "Through low light and trees",it's more upbeat too,my copy didn't leave the cd player in the car for more than a week,but I missed the more ethereal and melancholic songs of thier previous album.I haven't heard the first album yet,I may just have to buy it as a comparison and to complete the set to date.
discovered this pair when i heard their wonderful cover of Tim Hardings If I Were A Carpenter ..one of the best covers ive heard in years ! so delved back into the catalogue and into this superb album . A great subtle mixture of sounds that seem to come from years gone by with new twists and turns with a very much contemporary overall feel.
Something very unique in my opinion ...try and listen to some as soon as you can !
Are the Smoke Fairies a folk band? Are they a blues band? Can they be pigeonholed as Americana?
The answer to the last question is an unequivocal "no". Smoke Fairies are English and, although slide guitars and the minor pentatonic scale are to be found in their songs, their music has little to do with Americana/alt.country/nu country (which, if we are honest, are feeble attempts at re-branding country music).
This really is unclassifiable music. A melding of folk and blues underpinned by plangent harmonies created by two exquisite voices.
I first saw them supporting Bryan Ferry on his lamentable Dylanesque tour. They were good then, but listen to them now.
This is a worthy sequel to their debut with some of the songs settling into a relaxed but insistent groove.
Next offering from the Smoke Fairies keenly anticipated.
Very good album although some of the tracks are stronger than others. For me it starts a little too well with possibly the best track on the album at 1 on the playlist. The band themself have got a great sound and while not completely original is executed well. Roll on the next album.