Album | Smoke Fairies – Carried in Sound

In the muddled pathways of the pandemic, the Smoke Fairies looked less at the glass ball, reaching instead for reflecting on lives, loves and losses that formed Carried in Sound. What’s most striking is the way, with the aid of viola player Neil Walsh, they have created a less is more approach that never sounds like it was put together at their kitchen table using a single microphone and an old laptop. Employing whatever was on hand, from garbage can lids, old suitcases and a broken snare drum for percussion, they have crafted something otherworldly and wonderful.

From the opening acapella notes of ‘Vague Ideas’ to the final wordless moments of ‘Seek It With Me’, this is an album that plays to the strength of these two women and their ability to capture the quiet passion of that rests inside their souls. They aren’t afraid to look at what was and see it with a choral clarity. Amidst the acoustic guitars and their gentle electric counterpart, ‘Vague Ideas’ unravels a notion not of what was, but what wasn’t. “There was a vague idea that we might marry/ Well fed but died back each year/ You were on the bridge I crossed it with you/ On the new bank we sensed the change.” 

The accusatory sounds of bass and organ question thoroughly on ‘Carried in Sound’. It’s obvious that some of the answers aren’t the ones that one would have liked, “In the cold of the hallways of the life you remake/ Did you soften your edges that sting at the core?/ The pools of your history seeping under the door.” While there may be pandemic paranoia at play here, there is also a lucid understanding of how those moments have left us all changed.

As dark as things may seem there are also moments where the sun shines through, giving hints of new beginnings. ‘Seek It With Me’ breathes with hope, as guitars and Walsh’s strings offer a shift of colours, as the lyrics are resplendent with possibility, I’ve got eyes on the clouds/ Stirring up above/ Shut the door to the storm/ And fill this room with love. In that moment hope is reborn. 

Lost love, perhaps a little lust and forgiveness fuel the almost banjo-ish guitar of ‘2002’. Moments from the past merge with need for connection. Come back to see me/ I’ve not changed my ways/ I’m still terrible/ Come back/ Knock on my door/ And you’ll realize/ A good thing when you see it. 

There is no need for words on the final, instrumental version of ‘Seek It With Me’, the beauty plays out in the harmonic of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies. Coming out on the other side of fragile times, the Smoke Fairies take frozen landscapes and create new beginnings. Carried In Sound delivers the kind of poignant messages that offer hope during even the darkest days.