This double CD compilation by England’s Smoke Fairies – Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies – is a delightful gathering of early material.  Rich with harmonies, guitars, melody and nods towards the great British folk traditions – think Pentangle, Incredible String Band, Nick Drake.  However, there is also a definite American influence as well with some country-oriented tunes and arrangements.  A broad span indeed and a lot to choose from and savor.

There is no shortage of melody and structure in these songs.  Some pastoral; some melancholy; some light and breezy – it’s all here and in very tasty order.  “Sunshine” opens the album with a subdued melody and immediately gripping vocals; “When I Grow Old” incorporates tasteful slide guitar and “Living With Ghosts” has that swampy-feel that I’m a fan of.  “Frozen Heart”‘s slide and rhythmic pattern reminds me at moments of Beefheart as his most melodic and Richard Thompson (think “Peppermint Rock”).  “He’s Moving On” carries a violin-laced melody; “The Water Waits” (my personal favorite from this collection) moves along with warmth; “I Get So Lonely” is pure country and “The Road Is Long” chugs along – a perfect highway song.

All in all, 18 tracks, filled with quality.  A fine collection.

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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