‘Seed of a Pine’ - Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer(March 08, 2012)
Sometimes it’s the melody, perhaps the vocals, or maybe it’s a collection of ‘hooks’ that won’t let go or on occasion a magical combination of all. The best part of this job is listening to a fresh album in anticipation of which of its elements will catch your ear. With ‘Seed of a Pine’ Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer combine the essence of their talents to produce a unique encounter - every aspect of the whole engages and the result is a thoroughly excellent slice of Americana-influenced folk.
From the rich delivery of ‘So Comes the Day’ relishing in the controlled power of Dave’s resonant voice to the gentle textures of ‘Golden Grey’ with Mandy’s wistful, longing, strong-yet-fragile vocals, this album builds its authority throughout. Individually their voices constantly reaffirm the compelling attraction and charisma inherent in their songs; then when they sing together they weave a tapestry of harmony that seduces entirely – just listen to ‘Grow’, ‘Forget the Diamonds’ or ‘Once Was’ to hear precisely what I mean. These songs steal you away down tales of memory and along the routes of faraway roads moving through time from as old as the hills to as fresh as this morning’s rain. My favourites have to be ‘Comin’ Down’ with its perfectly placed electric guitar, rich vocals and inspired harmonies and the punchy drums and guitars of ‘Waking the Dreamer’.
On ‘Seed of a Pine’ Dave plays acoustic guitar while Mandy plays electric and acoustic guitars, piano, Wurlitzer, bells and tambourine. Adding their talent to the mix are Andrew Lauher (drums) Christopher Merrill (bass) Allison Russell (banjo, harmonies) Nora Barton (cello) Peter Mulvey (electric guitar, harmonies) Jared Rabin (violin) Benny Sidelinger (dobro) and Jeremy “JT Nero” Lindsay (harmonies).
The enticing depth of this 'debut-as-a-duo' album encourages you to slide into the embrace of Dave’s and Mandy’s perfect musical partnership.
Reviewer: Tom Franks