I think it was fated that I not get around to reviewing this CD right away because, before cueing up Fee Fie Foh Fum here in the first quarter of 2015, I just learned of the passing of John Renbourn, and Flagship Romance's work immediately struck as a long-distanced form of transoceanic kinship with John's Pentangle and solo work. No, he and they don't sound like each other but instead embody respective classic populist forms with a modern literacy immediately ensorceling the listener. Promo lit cites the body of work of the center of focus, Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson, as 'alt-folk', and I won't fault that for a moment but also go a step further: it's chamber alt-folk with a tantalizing periphery glow of homey avant-garde. As would be approprouate to such an unusual condition, you almost don't notice the lattermost save that it keeps whispering quietly and sweetly in your ear.
A major element in various arrangements is Hannah Alkire's cello. In the laconic Dandelion, she underwrites Fisher & Jackson's wistful, and in this song: eerie, singing and playing with the same bittersweet sentimentation Claire Lowther and John Cale brought to Nick Drake's work. I suspect, though, that the intimacy achieved in FR's depths is accountable in the fact that Shawn and Jordyn are real-life lovers and, in that, have much in common with Chris & Gileah (here). The manifold beauties contained in the works of both pairs are more than this poor critic's pen has the power to properly parse…but this also accounts for the endless fascinations, as Fee Fie is a CD warranting many listens, just as Joni Mitchell's work, especially the early catalogue, always has. The more you attend the oeuvre, the more you discover.
Amsterdam captures the two singers' voices circling each other like a pair of hummingbirds courting 'neath a golden sun, nectar-laden blossoms burgeoning everywhere, becoming another sonic figuration in the ebb and flow of oft moonlit tidal rhythms in the disc. And did I mention that this release is a two-fer? No? Well, it is, a CD / DVD combo, and the DVD sports a half-hour film with Fisher and Jackson's digging into the nuts and bolts of their work along with various people connected to the album as well a 4-song set of pro videos (and is it just me or do the recordings show even better sonics than the already pristine—the, as Fisher calls it, 'perfectly imperfect'—CD???) and a short clip describing a foundation the singers set up: 'charity: water', which sponsors the Clean Water Music Fest.
This is a VITAL concern, people, along with its undercurrent (the privatization and capitalization of world waters), so don't think back to the gross deceptions of the hideous Aid for Africa scandals and other corporate "charity" bullshit, as every single cent raised in this highly successful, worthy, and selfless endeavor goes to bring clean water to places like Rwanda. All the heart this pair shows in their music transfers directly over to their everyday living. That's a rarity.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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