Smoke Fairies – Folk faeries or toke fairies?

Smoke Fairies

Smoke-Fairies-500x500

On their early albums Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire sounded less like smoke fairies and more like folk faeries. With their wispy guitars and tremulous voices they were almost immaterial. A breath of wind and they’d blow away. Now they’re back with a new album, a new producer, and a new sound. The result is that this time around Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire sound less like smoke fairies and more like toke fairies. Whereas before Pentangle seemed like the music of choice on the tour bus, now they’ve adopted a slower, more sultry, even swampy style at times. Most of the tracks are built around broody, background guitar licks. They create a hint of menace on ‘Shadow Inversions’. A sense of being stalked on ‘Eclipse The All’. But there’s more to it. A smattering of folktronica, notably on ‘Koto’. A breezy enough opener in the form of ‘We’ve Seen Birds’. And a piano ballad of sorts at the end, ‘Are You Crazy?’. This a new Smoke Fairies. Does it all come together? Not quite. With sweaty sounds, you’d expect some real-life, hands-on, sleazy-sounding lyrics. But for the most part things are still oblique, abstract, polite. And while there can be a real depth to the vocals that matches the mood of the music really nicely, there are times when the inner Sandy Denny chimes out in ways that are at odds with the sound. Rumour has it that Smoke Fairies nearly split up after their last album. And there was a sense that they were treading water. This album, though, has breathed life into the project. Having set off in a new direction, they need to have the courage of their convictions and go the whole way.

The Line of Best Fit review

Drowned in Sound review

Music OMH review

The Independent review

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