the small glories’ wondrous traveler: folk and harmony with a roots edge

10th July 2016

Title: Wondrous Traveler

Label: TSG

Basically a duo, Cara Luft (former Wailing Jennys member) and JD Edwards. The album starts off powerfully with the song Had I Paid, an intense, passionate affair that is intensified by a tight vocal harmony that clicks easily with the sparse yet effected instrumental backing. An energetic “Take this!” and “Take that!” of a track, leaving you breathless. Only…only…to sooth you with a balm that is Luft’s now angelic delivery with the smooth backing from Edwards. The gentle Yang to the former’s Ying.

Holding On is the song and a thing of beauty it is too. Floaty and sympathetic. Calming and tender. This is a song that, trust me, you really don’t want to end. Just one more verse? Another chorus? And another? Just one more?

In less than seven and a half minutes, therefore, you are gifted two songs that give you a potted overview of just what the duo is capable of. The pair are in a hurry, it seems but by the end of the second song you’re ready and eager for more.

Then what do they give you? Bluegrass band plucking by the noise-filled swamp and a ballad you might hear after a long day, after a bountiful meal, as the stars increase their intensity in the emerging night sky. The strains of Luft…change. And this is noticeable form the pair. That is, their vocal style changes almost with every song. It changes to fit the mood of the song which is not only remarkable but pays due respect to the song itself. Refreshing in approach and the rest of this album follows this template of having no template at all.

The mastering is good without being amazing but it’s good enough and that’s all that matters.

One of the best debuts I’ve heard in many a year.