People rarely consider women wailing over finger-picking as something cool or badass, but throw Jack White into the mix and you’ve automatically got a change of heart. It’s tough to deny it but, regardless of your feelings toward the White Stripes renegade, the guy’s got some good taste in music. It doesn’t take much more than a glance at the roster of releases on his Third Man Records label to prove this point: BP Fallon, Wanda Jackson… Smoke Fairies. Throw in the man’s own work and you’ve got quite a good spectrum there.
Smoke Fairies are a pretty unsurprising choice though, it’s got to be said. Just listen to that first release, the ‘Gastown’ / ‘River Song’ 7” issued in late 2009, and you can see why Jack White fell for these West Sussex sirens. Their voices are pretty, but not submissive; no, these women sing with conviction, soft conviction, but certain nonetheless.
Through Low Light And Trees omits the singles off their first release, but it’s quite a clever move, really. It’s nice to see a band compile a record without falling back on previous singles, especially when the band is not one to be much for the ‘big singles, big hype’ blueprint. Featured by the Guardian as ‘one to watch’ back in February of this year, it has never really seemed as though the Fairies were destined for an explosion of popularity. The record itself tastes of the slow and the steady; no rush.
The whole record seems to follow this pattern; each track easing the listener into some sense of familiar comfort. From the opening song to the closer, the album appears to want to appease you, make you feel good… okay. It does help that the two voices exploited are so normal. But then maybe normal isn’t the word you’re looking for… The vox is just recognisable. It doesn’t make you feel like you’re listening to some uber talented musician who’s voice is so other-worldly you couldn’t even begin to imagine, begin to compare exactly what it is it’s trying to convey…
And maybe that is the key with these Smoke Fairies. Maybe that’s what Jack White, unlike the rest of us unworthy plebs, was able to understand; that these two, seemingly traditional, women can raconte, weave a tale, a true FAIRIEtale, if you will. The album, whilst remaining a fairly simple collection of songs, can stand proud in the knowledge that it shares stories, translates feelings, which reach the listener on easy, nay, on comfortable ears. But then perhaps that was the plan all along. After all, it’s sometimes going right back to the simplest beginning that a true comprehension blossoms.
That, or I’m a floaty fairie idiot.