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Smoke Fairies’ outstanding new album, the eponymously titled Smoke Fairies, shows the band in top form, combining their classic approach while exploring new forms of musical expression – but it is an album that they nearly didn’t make.
There was a moment after the release of Smoke Fairies’ last album (Blood Speaks, 2012) when Jessica Davies turned to musical partner Katherine Blamire and told her she was no longer sure whether Smoke Fairies should continue. For Smoke Fairies the suggestion of not playing music together would potentially impact more than just their band – theirs was a friendship forged by music, by a shared ambition that had carried them from their schooldays and on to songwriting and performing together.
‘We started considering what would we do if we didn’t do music,’ recalls Davies, ‘and it was just a massive void.’ Deciding that giving up on the band was ‘not an option,’ Davies wrote a musical apology to Blamire that would become the stunning opening track of their new album. ‘I just wanted to say sorry to her – sorry I scared you like that.’
In the six years since Smoke Fairies first entered a recording studio, they have made two critically acclaimed albums, toured with Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling, and had a single released on Jack White’s Third Man Records; but for all the perceived glamour of a musical career, they were still sharing a house in Peckham and waiting for something to happen while they worked temp jobs around London.
But with the question now raised, Smoke Fairies were able to really take stock and reassess what the band truly meant to them. ‘We realised that this is our life,’ says Davies. ‘And we just have to see it as this wonderful thing, every gig we get to play and every record we get to make – we’re just incredibly grateful for that.’