Time to break out the jerkin and the longbow, and head over to the Ren Faire! That’s how I felt after listening to this moody, spacey collection of vocals from the UK duo Smoke Fairies. That would be Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies, two high school friends who’ve made music ever since. They’ve done their homework, living in New Orleans, Vancouver, and touring with Brain Ferry and Richard Hawley. This release pulls together their singles and an early EP, and makes for a nicely unified musical experience.
“Frozen Heart” beds down with a pulsing rhythm built of soft Celtic drums and bass, and the vocals occasionally launch into what might be a sea shanty. Country fiddles open the bluesy ballad “He’s Moving On” and the lyric takes us down the path suggested — he’s gone, she’s depressed, and the world is frozen into a Spanish moss-covered tomb. The simple arrangements and alternately mournful, positive vocals beg for a sackbut or crumhorn on backup, and by the time we hear “Morning” that sleazy guy has returned, no more likely than the guy from three songs ago to remain, but he’s here now, and life proceeds one more day. I think The Smoke Fairies have emotionally stabilized, so let’s get a turkey leg and watch the jugglers.