Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies are in essence Smoke Fairies, an alternative folk rock duo from the West Sussex Cathedral city of Chichester. They release their sixth studio album `Carried In Sound` this month.
The album I read, covers multiple themes, acknowledging the experience of aging and what that brings. Moments on the album conjure past memories and the realisation of a fading youth. There is reflection on paths untrodden, decisions not made, the deaths of loved ones who once seemed immortal and the heartbreak of watching a mind fade away. Whilst evoking this melancholy the album also gathers a hopefulness, the letting go of regrets, finding comfort in new love and the warmth of home.
The album opens with `Vague Ideas` which paints a picture of the final argument that signals the end of a partnership and although a devastating event the number is relayed in a fairly remote reflective manner with a rolling guitar chord and harmonies that are delightfully spiritual. We all consider our own mortality but covid brought us all a period of evaluation and `Vanishing Line` conjures this in a captivating mediative soundscape.
Title track `Carried in Sound` is a further hypnotic thoughtful observation but this time on those who seem driven towards happiness at everyone else`s expense but does this ultimately sit well with them. There`s a delightful edginess to the musical accompaniment. Although `There was a hope` was fairly stripped back with piano, vocals and viola which gave it a melancholic ambience, it echoes thoughts of the destiny that our lives take and that maybe these events are beyond our control regardless of our own beliefs.
`Seek it with me` is a celebration of love and the possibilities of what a life together could possibly hold. It had a kind of traditional folk like ambience but with some wonderfully exquisite vocals. A tale of a lonesome individual awaiting nightfall to collect the city’s rubbish to build a vessel to withstand an imagined Armageddon due to thoughts about the self-destructive nature of humanity comes with `Sticks and Stones`. The music shared has a starkness that mirrors the vision of this isolated soul.
`Part of it All` has a bleakness not only musically but lyrically and ponders a kind of suburban alienation that lacks comprise, sympathy or friendship. We have an interesting concept with `2002` where former romantic partners reunite but find that they are still fundamentally the same flawed individuals who previously couldn`t create a life together. The track is shared over a fairly whimsical aural landscape.
`Perseus` was inspired after witnessing a strong meteor shower from the constellation Perseus, named after the powerful Greek Hero, who rescued Andromeda from a sea monster and beheaded Medusa. It also evoked a doomed relationship and observing the songwriter`s father`s decline into dementia. A ruminative but sensitive and pretty rhythmic spectral listen. The final lyrical offering `Come to My Mind` is an expansive reflection on a past love and how time and experience has shaped how your romantic ideals and expectations have altered.
This release closes with a truncated instrumental version of `Seek it with me` with just vocal harmonies guiding us along.
`Carried in Sound` is a marvellously absorbing listen which draws you into it`s intricate lyrical and musical avenues. I don`t profess to understand all the poetic intricacies shared but at least this wordplay left me with thoughts and ideas to ponder long after the tracks had ended.
An album that touches on the spiritual as well as the emotional experiences of life.
Rating 8.5 /10