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M. Craft - Silver & Fire

M. Craft, Silver and Fire

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TWO years ago, an album from Martin Craft didn’t seem possible. He had run out of inspiration and was walking the streets of Dalston nursing badly bruised arms that were suffering from the effects of having been electrocuted by a faulty amp.

The early promise he had shown with the EP I Can See It All Tonight and as founder of the classic Australian psychedelics band, Sidewinder, were becoming a rapidly fading memory.

But then he bumped into his friend, Daniel Lea, in Oxfam, and found that he was also at a loose end. Within a few days, they had resolved to work together and were recording in Daniel’s kitchen with microphones hanging from the ceiling and the bathroom being used as a makeshift reverb chamber.

Over the next six months, Silver & Fire came together and the result is a really fantastic listen. Built around M. Craft’s honey smooth voice (that hints at Elliott Smith combined with Badly Drawn Boy) and some flowing melodies, the long-player continually puts forward gem-like records that are steeped in classic songwriting tradition.

The album opens with the entrancing dreamjazz of the title track, Silver and Fire which effortlessly weaves some warm acoustic guitar around Craft’s laidback vocals and daydream style. There’s also some bursts of flute that sit well alongside the glockenspiel melodies that lend the track a magical feel.

Its follow-up, Emily Snow, plays like a fuzzed-out Bacharachian bossanova track complete with dreamy backing girl vocals that are completely intoxicating. In contrast, is the Cohen-inspired I Got Nobody Waiting For Me, which explores a somewhat more melancholy side to Craft – yet no less captivating.

While Love Knows How To Fight takes the form of a soaring, soul-searching, broken-man ballad that’s somewhat more gutsy – the guitars a little more crisp, the vocals more persuasive in their despair (‘nothing can save me now’) but the melodies no less enchanting.

Another highlight is the hand-clappy Lucille (Where Did The Love Go) which lays down some guitar riffs that Lou Reed would be proud of. It’s upbeat musically in spite of the sentiment which finds Craft asking why the world is becoming so loveless.

Yet this is a feature of M. Craft’s work – telling lyrics combined with sparkling melodies. Snowbird is another classic case in point – a beautifully crafted tale of a young girl who’s artistically gifted but ends up dropping out of art school in favour of a coke-fuelled nightlife. Hard-hitting, yes, but never depressing.

M. Craft writes, sings, produces, mixes and plays the instruments in his recordings, apart from the drums which are well-delivered by long-time collaborator, Paul Cook. The female voices are provided by Tree Carr, Sarah Cartwright and Maya Lubinsky and they float in and out with all the soothing capabilities of a cool breeze on a warm summer’s day.

If this review hasn’t already convinced you that Silver & Fire deserves a place in your record collection, then I’m not sure what will. It looks destined to become one of the year’s most rewarding listens.

Track listing:

  1. Silver And Fire
  2. Emily Snow
  3. You Are The Music
  4. I Got Nobody Waiting For Me
  5. Love Know How To Fight
  6. Lucile
  7. Dragonfly
  8. Snowbird
  9. Sweets
  10. Soldier
  11. Teardrop Tattoo