Silver + Fire – M.Craft

Label: 679 Recordings

Folk music might not have exactly been through a revolution of late, if for no other reason than that all sounds a bit drastic. Steady on, brother. If we could talk about it changing its top we might be on the right lines. Either way, it’s smartened up a bit, thrown on something a bit sharper, reigned in the ambling stereotype, and got online. We’re fairly certain it’s not knitting its own underwear anymore anyway. Take as evidence for this recent years’ intoxicating and sometimes dizzying output from the likes of Adem, Patrick Wolf, the ever surprising Kathryn Williams and the flowering of folktronica. And as loathed as that expression may be by some hair-splitting sorts it does hint in exactly the right direction – folk music doesn’t have to be faithfully straightforward. It’s a thought that’s been toyed with ever since Dylan shifted the earth a few degrees closer to hell by stepping on a distortion pedal in public, but it can’t be denied that this current lot do have particularly fertile imaginations.

All of which sets the scene nicely for dapper Aussie songwriting man M.Craft. So modern in fact that his name’s even got a dot in it already. In his promo shots he looks more like he’s en route to complete The Rakes’ accounts than clutch an acoustic guitar close and emote warmly, gently, privately. And such superficial pointers are mirrored organically in the considerately tailored stylings of his music. Songs like the gentle, mandolin streaked ‘I Got Nobody Waiting For Me’ with its heavyweight harmonic jacket, and the lonely plucked simplicity of ‘Teardrop Tattoo’, remind of the late Elliott Smith, and ‘Love Knows How To Fight’ of the wholesome desert-plain songwriting of Ryan Adams. But that is merely the foundation level.

Beyond this there’s a bundle of lounge-jazz influence thrown around in ‘Snowblind’ and ‘Emily Snow’, a gruffed-up showman attitude a little akin to Damon Gough in ‘You Are The Music’ (fronting French pop titans Phoenix perhaps) and some Super Furries 60’s psychedelic choral oddity going on in ‘The Soldier’. Then there’s ‘Lucille (Where Did The Love Go?)’ which sounds like Willy Mason playing ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ in the style of The Kinks, which has to be a reasonable idea. He has Beck’s sense of musical mischief without being so outlandish. This is folk music at heart, stemming from delicate pluckings and the unhurried gentility of his just-above-room-temperature vocal tones, but it amounts to something far less simplistic. Something like a folk ball-bearing thrown into the roulette wheel of musical genres on a medium spin.

Release: M.Craft - Silver + Fire
Review by:
Released: 26 May 2006