Piano Magic

Saint Marie

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Saint Marie is one of the more substantial nonalbum Piano Magic releases, not just for its near-album length (27 minutes). Beyond one throwaway, there are four songs that aren't deserving of rarity status. The title track is a new version of the lead-off from The Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic, recorded with Low's Alan Sparhawk on lead vocals (the original featured PM head Glen Johnson). Both versions are equally powerful. Both "Fantasia on Old English Airs" and "Lalo" are solemn instrumentals, the former being windswept and dramatic while the latter involves a lone, lyrical acoustic guitar that owes a bit to Bert Jansch. "Dark Ages" is one of the most unsettling songs the group has recorded, dreamily amorphous and spooky. "Wrong Turn," an obvious nod to mid-'80s Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, is wonderfully swampy and sinewy; Sparhawk returns to bellow (one might expect to hear the ghost of Jim Morrison pop in at any moment to join with "Mister mojo risin'").

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