Artist – The Black Feathers
It’s not often that you dutifully place a CD into your CD player and immediately stop whatever else you’re doing, as the sounds emanating from the well worn speakers literally stop you in your tracks! Well this debut 5 track EP from The Black Feathers was certainly one such occasion.
Duo Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler have put together a spell-binding collection of top quality songs that not only showcases their own blend of English folk and American roots, but will surely have the so-called folk critics tripping over themselves to drop superlatives.
Case in point being opening tune, and title track, “Strangers We Meet” – quite simply a beautiful acoustic ballad, ebbing and flowing with luscious harmonies, bright acoustic guitar and sweeping violin.
“10,000 Times” provides the perfect contrast, as the duo veer into harder edged Americana territory. They get to rock it up a little, with resonator to the fore and topped off with melodious voices in unison.
What makes these self-penned songs so remarkable is that they feel almost like they’re old friends – heart-warming, familiar, comfortable.
“Open Book” displays a fragility that is quite chilling in it’s latent authenticity. Singularly both Sian and Ray have wonderful voices by anyone’s standards, but when they join as one the effect is quite something, this particular tune giving them full range to impress.
These guys have obviously got a big musical future ahead of them – and this EP is one for filing under the “Must Have” category!
Check them out here: www.theblackfeathers.com
PS – And don’t forget, they will be supporting The Jigantics at the Square Roots Promotions Xmas Cracker show on Saturday 13th December this year – that should be a very special evening!
Another View …….
When sponsoring bands/singers on Kickstarter I have a strict rule not to give more to a band who have reached their intended goal. They’ve got their chance, I’ll try to help someone else. I immediately broke that rule when I heard ‘Strangers We Meet’, the promo track for The Black Feathers and now here on their ep. I played it again and again and couldn’t help but put my money where their mouths are.
Here are a duo who, in their debut ep, have created a ‘best-of’. I cannot wait to hear what comes next. It will have to go some to match this. The album is beautifully produced, the harmonies, instrumentation and clarity of sound are all superb which is important since their style of music swells and fades with the emotion of the song. Nothing detracts from the music and each track is special – so a short piece on all five.
My first comparison on hearing ‘Strangers We Meet’ is the beautiful harmonies of Nickel Creek on one of their slower tracks. The Black Feathers use a similar technique of ebb and flow in their voices as they sing in perfect harmony. Simply put, this is a song about grace played and sung with grace.
Contrast ‘10,000 Times’ which has a bitter driving strength to it as the singers tell their story. This is a powerful song in the mode of Seth Lakeman but slightly slower and the fiddle replaced by strong vocals, solid guitar work, drums and full accompaniment behind.
‘Open Book’ is a simple melody, a gentle sad song as one person’s love for another is not returned but, in the latter stages it cleverly builds using snare and drum in a marshal-tempo that sounds almost like Ravel’s Bolero. This might be the ‘ear worm’ you’ll find you sing out loud!
‘You Will Be Mine’ immediately put me in mind of Ruth Moody. Like her, Sian sings a little higher up the scale to contrast with Ray’s guitar. They harmonise beautifully during passages and towards the end as they gently bring closure to the music. There are shades of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss here too. A lovely track – I wish there were more.
The final track ‘All Came Down’ is the closest to a country song in tempo and the lively use of fiddle. It closes the album with melody and leaves you tapping your feet. If there’s room in your head, here’s another ‘ear-worm’ you’ll be humming to yourself. I bet this is a cracking show-stopper.
So, if you like Nickel Creek, Ruth Moody, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and a little Seth Lakeman then this is one for you. I think The Black Feathers will be big sooner than they/we realise – catch them live if you can.