Smoke Fairies – Darkness Brings the Wonders Home

Smoke Fairies play the real folk blues. At first glance, that’s likely the last thing you’d expect out of these two almost stereotypically prim-and-proper looking British lasses, which is part of what makes them even cooler. Upon emerging from Chichester in southern England some 13 years ago, Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies have conjured some of the most mesmerizing music in modern-day modern times. They’ve done so not in some cloying, mainstreamed-to-death costume party manner for vegan Megans, or by reheating dulled-down mediocrity for the boring BBQ sauce crowd. To the contrary – they understand the deep, intrinsic, supernatural power of this music. They know how to harness it and hotwire it to life. Their voices rise and fall in thick mist like visitations from the spirit realm. They inhabit the ghosts.

With dirty, slithering electric guitar carving a menacing conduit, “On the Wing” and the magnificent “Out of the Woods” manifest a marriage of spooky blues and witchy folk music much in the manner of Led Zeppelin’s mighty heights, minus the Bonham thud. “Left to Roll” stuns like a secret séance between Marianne Faithfull, the Casket Girls and Jefferson Airplane. Even when they veer into straightforward rock it’s skewed and contorted, like the way “Elevator” is stuck between floors like a Nirvana/Rasputina construction, something which could’ve eventually come to pass considering that Melora Creager played cello for Nirvana’s final European tour in 1994. Phil Ek might’ve even wound up overseeing those imaginary potential sessions – and surely the Seattle producer (known for recordings by Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, the Paper Kites, Black Angels and numerous others) would’ve executed as glorious a job with that as he’s done on this latest Smoke Fairies masterpiece.

With the tangled marvels and mysteries of nature a recurring backdrop, the words herein are curious, evocative and personal but vague enough so that interpretations can be adjusted to fit the listener. So while “Coffee Shop Blues” – with probably the most specific lyrics of the batch – reflects on a year spent in New Orleans at age 19, capturing the damp, eerie, woozy vibe of that city without resorting to injecting the usual NOLA musical trademarks into the procession, the self-admonition “You should have kept things as they were/ But you’re curious” applies to any of us who’ve thrown caution to the wind and dived into dark waters, overlooking what may lie below. Don’t you want to spiral out of control?

There’s no one else creating anything even remotely as magical as this in the here and now. It’s been five years since their last burst of activity, but with Darkness Brings the Wonders Home Smoke Fairies have managed to overtake their own prior triumphs. It’s an album that shifts and squirms and rumbles with its own strange organic force and flow. It will overtake and envelop you, and your future will be haunted.

Smoke Fairies
Darkness Brings the Wonders Home
[Year Seven]