wears the trousers magazine


smoke fairies: frozen heart ep (2009)
July 13, 2009, 11:41 am
Filed under: EP, review, video | Tags: , , ,

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Smoke Fairies
Frozen Heart EP •••
Music For Heroes 

With the f word being applied to anyone sporting a ukulele and a checked shirt in these modern times, Smoke Fairies are here to remind us what folk really sounds like. The Fairies are Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire, who met and started playing music together at school in their home town of Chichester. With their formative years behind them, and time spent in New Orleans and the Southern States refining their craft, the duo have forged a sound that’s part English folk and part American blues. It has a timeless and ethereal quality that’s quite out of synch with the current London new-folk/antifolk/post-folk (!) scene, and is more likely to appeal to fans of Eliza Carthy or Rachel Unthank & The Winterset than Emmy The Great or Noah & The Whale.

Frozen Heart is the second release from the band and follows on the heels of last year’s well received debut single ‘Living With Ghosts’. Musically it mines a similar vein, featuring wistful melodies and well crafted vocal harmonies across its five songs. The title track lays the Fairies’ mournful voices over a persistent beat and blues guitar riff that gives their lightness of touch a bit of extra weight. At the centre of the song lies something bitter and broken. “You said I’ve come to hate your heart because it’s like the rolling sea / restless and hungry and only cruel to me,” they sing, with an almost choral delivery that chills to the bone. The other standout, ‘Fences’, is reminiscent of Beth Gibbons of Portishead’s excellent Out Of Season with its autumnal atmosphere and ghostly backing. While the music sounds like it was dug up from some ancient graveyard, the lyrics bring the track into the 21st century with a bump: “Life is just a series of stumbles and falls / spending my money just to be a drunken fool”.

Living up to its title, there’s nothing perky or red-blooded about Frozen Heart and the EP verges on hopelessly depressing upon first inspection. Nevertheless, these morose, downtempo songs do reveal their subtleties with repeated listens for those who have the patience. Ex-Longpigs guitarist turned singer-songwriter Richard Hawley is such a fan he’s described them as “frankly the best thing I have heard in years”. He’s taking Davies and Blamire out on tour with him this October, so if you like a bit of melancholy to get you through the cold autumn evenings, Smoke Fairies could be a ticket worth investigating.

Richard Steele
UK release date: 13/07/09; www.myspace.com/smokefairies

 

‘Frozen Heart’

‘Living With Ghosts’

‘It’s Over’ [Roy Orbison cover]

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[…] Theoretical Girl – Divided [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 6/8] 22 Smoke Fairies – Frozen Heart EP [Richard Steele 13/7] 23 George Pringle – Salon Des Refusés [Elyse Cain 7/9] 24 Vivian Girls – […]

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