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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SMOKE FAIRIES "Smoke Fairies" (Full Time Hobby)

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Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014 5:00 am

“Are you crazy?” Smoke Fairies asks at the conclusion of the duo’s new self-titled album. It’s a question that may have been directed at Jessica Davies by bandmate Katherine Blamire, or the other way around. Performing equal parts rock, folk, and blues, the pair have been working together since the late 1990s but considered splitting up after the release of their album Blood Speaks in 2012. The song “Are You Crazy?” is a contemplative and ethereal ballad featuring acoustic piano and lightly layered vocal harmonies undermining the urgency of the question. Earlier tracks provide all the variety and contour one would expect from the musical veterans, whose career highlights include tours with Rasputina, Laura Marling, and Bryan Ferry as well as being the first UK act to release a single on Third Man Records (Jack White’s label). The opening track, “We’ve Seen Birds,” mixes upbeat pep with a retro drumbeat from accomplished session drummer Andy Newmark. “Shadow Inversions,” coming a few songs later, is much darker; it counterbalances the angst typical of ’90s alt-rock with airy vocals in doubled octaves. “Misty Versions,” on the other hand, is full of bluesy huskiness, reflecting the time the two spent in New Orleans studying American traditional music. Despite the weariness or crisis of confidence that may have almost precipitated the end, Smoke Fairies proves to be just as inventive and as resilient as ever with this latest offering.

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