Smoke Fairies, “Through Low Light and Trees” by Gregory Morgan


My monthly music pick is Through Low Light and Trees the 2010 debut album by Smoke Fairies (V2 Cooperative Music SF001CDX). Smoke Fairies are Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire – two women from Chichester who met in grade school and bonded over their love of CSN, Led
Zeppelin, and the Grateful Dead and “anything with harmonies that interweave.” They present a modern take on folk rock, with an ethereal bluesy feel playing both fingerpicking and slide guitar. Smoke Fairies have been compared to Fairport Convention, because of the similarities in the folk rock musings of Sandy Denny on cuts such as “Storm Song” and “Summer Fades”, but with the traditional English folk sound supplanted by a more American folk and blues
perspective, though the influences of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and Steeleye Span still subtlety shines through.

Through Low Light and Trees has a rather unique sound due to tube driven vintage production. Davies and Blamire play a variety of vintage Hofner, Harmony, and Kay guitars giving this album a rather unique tonal quality, as these sound very different from the more common Gibsons, Gretches, and Fenders most often favored by most musicians. The album has a very “live in the studio” feel, with minimal overdubs. The duo’s voices and
instruments harmonize in haunting ways that are anomalous in today’s era of auto-tune, and studio tricks. I was lucky enough to have been able to see Smoke Fairies on one of their two San Francisco Bay Area performances in 2011 and have longed to see them again ever since.  Their vocal harmonies were every bit as good live as on the album.

This is an album that I have returned to with regularity every fall since its release. For me, this album seems to fit the mood of fall weather and the shortening days as winter approaches. Stand out tracks for me are:

Summer Fades

Devil in My Mind

Hotel Room

Strange Moon Rising

Live version of Storm Song

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society