Smoke Fairies @ Johnny Brenda’s

Smoke Fairies | Johnny Brenda’s (Philadelphia, PA) | May 15, 2010 |

“Who here wishes they were as cool as the Smoke Fairies?… I do” Laura Marling says, raising her hand in the air. The 20-year-old prodigal folk chanteuse was referring to the act who had taken Johnny Brenda’s stage before her. I’m pretty sure most people wish they were as cool as Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire. Although the duo hails from London, their sound is much more indebted to whiskey-soaked Americana (see: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl). They are part country and part blues and as inspired by Goths as they are by gospels. Their sound evokes images of Delta porches and Civil War debris… Yes, they have caught the attention of Jack White (who released one of their singles on his Third Man Records).

The duo’s somber and smoky sound left the Philadelphia crowd in an awestruck haze. While the strums of their guitars may be delicate, their impact is jarring. They maintained a hypnotic hold on the largely unfamiliar audience for their 30-minute set, which was comprised of the better part of Ghosts, a collection of singles and an EP, recently released on limited edition 10” vinyl by 453 Music. The nine songs found on the release are soulfully morbid and simplistically daunting. It’s certainly not the most joyful release, but it seems true beauty is most often found in those darkest of places. Of course, there are brief sunny moments, although that sun generally tends to be shining into an empty vessel through a cracked and broken window. – Izzy Cihak