Review Summary: A hazy, almost psychedelic voyage into the world of contemporary folk-rock.
‘Blood Speaks,’ the second LP from UK group Smoke Fairies is an album with a distinctly vintage sound. One could almost imagine themselves enjoying this on a hot San Francisco summer day in 1969 with some chilled-out hippies, the spirit of easy-going good times in the air all around you. The atmospheric electric guitar lines combine with the dreamy, intertwined lead vocal work of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies to lead the listener on a journey of sorts through the world of folk music.
But of course, ‘Blood Speaks’ is not simple a 60s throwback record, or else it would hardly be worth listening to. No, what makes this album stand out in the context of today’s music scene is its modern interpretation of a classic sound. The winding guitar passages and driving, yet subtle and unassuming drum patterns work together to forge a sound that could be compared to bands such as Women and Warpaint, in the way that their oftentimes simple musicianship is overshadowed by the surrealistic vibe that is created by the combination of the individual instruments and vocals.
Smoke Fairies take a variety of approaches towards creating their intended sound, which results in an album that, while fixed in its hazy, even trippy atmosphere, always avoids sounding stale or repetitive throughout its long 55-minute play time. Some songs are centred around a main guitar line, as in The Three of Us
which showcases a catchy electric slide guitar riff, while others rely more upon the British duo’s ethereal vocal work, others still upon a hypnotizing snare and high-hat interchange or other captivating drum work. The constant that runs throughout the album though, the thing that ties ‘Blood Speaks’ together as a piece of music, lies partly within the somewhat familiar atmosphere that draws clear influence from the era of psychedelic experimentation of the early folk-rock scene. But more specifically, it is the combination of this familiar sound with a fresh approach that gives this album its own distinct charm.
Listeners are likely to be mesmerized by the angelic vocals of Blamire and Davies, if not entranced by the whirling electric guitars and hypnotizing drums. But ‘Blood Speaks’ is an album that is best enjoyed as a slow-burner; its appeal will gradually reveal itself to the listener that is patient enough to not dismiss the familiarity of the record as a bad thing in and of itself. With their second full-length album, Smoke Fairies have created a highly enjoyable homage to their main musical influences, but have still managed to fashion themselves a unique niche in the vast soundscape of contemporary rock and folk music.