Flyinshoes Review

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http://theblackfeathers.com/

 

The Black Feathers could well be Britain’s answer to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings - or possibly to The Indigo Girls, echoes of whom come strongly through at times. This hugely impressive five song debut sees them stepping confidently in their own direction with an evocative melding of British and American folk sounds. As a duo, The Black Feathers are vocalist Sian Chandler and guitarist/vocalist Ray Hughes. For this recording they have recruited some extra players to fill out the sound: mandolin, resonator guitar, percussion and electric guitar are all in there, though the biggest impact comes from the string players who add warm and reverberating tones to these poetic songs.

The two opening songs here demonstrate the impressive range, power and musical ambition of these guys. Starting off with the title track, we are beguiled with close harmonies as warm and snug as settling by a log fire on an autumn’s day. Towards the end of the song there are hints of what we get next; the emotional intensity is racked up as the yearning gets expressed in notes that reach ever higher. This is as nothing, though, compared to the febrile intensity of 10,000 Times; the acoustic guitar punches out the chords, the fiddle sounds like an entire nervous system on edge and Sian and Ray both take the part of the wounded lover. They take lines separately, then together as they express the pain of a love in danger of being lost. Not easy stuff to hear, but an impressively overwhelming performance. The calm seas of Open Book, which follows, come as soothing balm. There’s a slightly harsh edge to their sound when the intensity reaches a high peak that stands in strong contrast to the sweet warmth of the lower, gentler moments.

There has recently been a strong growth in new ways of following old roots and The Black Feathers sound to me like they’ve found a productive new direction to follow, as interesting and rewarding to the listener as anything else out there.  The writing on Open Book is particularly beautiful to my ears but every song here is impressive in its way, full not only of beauty but also of serious intent. They’ve been working together for quite a while so I’m hoping there’s plenty of half-prepared material for a full album to be possible in the near future. I’ll be watching out for it, that’s for sure.

 

John Davy

 

 

 

 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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