Through Low Light and Trees

Smoke Fairies

(LP - Year Seven Records #7001)

Review by James Christopher Monger

Lost amidst the dull roar of the recent spate of English folk revivalists (Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Johnny Flynn), The Smoke Fairies V2 debut feels much more connected to the genre’s halcyon days than any of the offerings from the group’s contemporaries. Led by West Sussex vocalists, guitarists and schoolmates Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire, the Smoke Fairies' heady blend of moor-bound, folk-rock, and languid, bayou-kissed blues stems from a steady diet of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and Steeleye Span, along with the pair’s post-University musical journey through the American south. An extended pilgrimage to New Orleans allowed the longtime friends to hone the 11 songs that make up Through Low Light and Trees into something truly magical, and while the album is clearly the product of the green fields and misty mountains of their homeland, it’s obvious that the time spent in the Big Easy had a profound effect on them. Opening with the one-two punch of the wistful “Summer Fades” and the remarkably timeless sounding “Devil in My Mind,” it’s easy to draw parallels to the murky, sepia-toned atmospherics of Steeleye's Hark! The Village Wait or Shirley Collins' No Roses (due in part to the tube-driven, vintage production) but by the time the group introduces the humid, slide guitar lurch that fuels “Strange Moon Rising,” they’ve traded climates without sacrificing any of the fog, resulting in a masterful debut that’s part Tudors and part True Blood.