This band from Western North Carolina call their music ‘Folk Noir’ but any dark themes are effectively neutralised by the lively arrangements and the members’ innately sociable nature; “We want these tunes to keep you company” they declare.
Founded by guitarist Keith J. Smith and a female accordionist/banjoist known simply as Sparrow, the songs on their third album reflect a love of travelling coupled with a determination to stay upbeat even when life’s misfortunes weigh heavy.
The title track is about loving and losing loving friends through addiction and/or depression. However, the sobering truism that “Every day could be the one we’re gone” is presented as an impetus to remain positive rather than being a cause for despair.
The Bluegrass roots from the Appalachia mountains are still much in evidence but the band also embrace elements of New Orleans jazz, Parisian swing and East European folk traditions.
These varied styles are realised with the help of Kristen Harris (fiddle), Daisy Castro (violin), Eric Heveron-Smith (bass/ trombone), Mattick Frick (drums) and other guest musicians from Ashville.
Other song subjects include wealth inequality (Watching These Wheels Roll), dirty dealing by a development company (House That Condos Stole) and insomnia (Dueling With The Demons).
The jovial presentation of such topics is at times incongruous but when faced with a piece like Zeus Faber, with the style and swagger Balkan rhythms, the inclination is to go along with the good-natured mood.