There was some level of anticipation when it came to picking up this album. I stumbled across M.Craft in one of those limited airplay moments that artists of this nature sometimes find themselves in. You know the one, first thing in the morning you are hitching a ride on the day courtesy of your first cup of coffee and the radio is pure background, just reminding you to stay awake. Suddenly you cop a song coming out of the speakers that hits you with the impact of a freight train and before the last notes fade you find yourself sitting there with pen and paper ready to write down said artist and title. M.Craft gave me one of those moments and his first EP “I Can See It All Tonight” didn’t disappoint. So I’d put a lot of faith in this guy for the release of his first album proper and it was fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Silver & Fire is a collection of old and new songs. Taking in the better part of the aforementioned EP. In this instance I’m pretty grateful that my patience and trepidation was rewarded with such a fine collection of songs. Especially considering my tastes don’t usually lie in this particular genre which makes me a trickier prospect to impress.
The general consensus for Craft’s genre is to label him in the folk category, while I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with this description, to my ears he seems to represent a particularly organic branch of pop. Yes, the songs are predominantly driven by acoustic guitar but often they are fleshed out with just enough additional instrumentation to give them a somewhat broader feel. The gentle percussion that you find on tracks like Emily Snow is often loose and almost jazzy. There are even some decidedly uptempo offerings such as You Are The Music, which borders on an acoustic funk workout with its scratchy guitar rhythms holding up the back of the song. Moments like these aren’t always convincing straight out of the box, it takes a few listens for them to seep in and make themselves at home. Rest assured though they do make it in the end.
While musically Craft can certainly deal out palatable enough tunes his lyrical skills really show his worth. He has a knack of transferring the mundane and familiar into a descriptive lyric. It’s a combination of these abilities that give the album a blend of the pastoral and the urban. A sense of the unspoilt interwoven with a slightly sleazy nocturnal city view.
This is never better demonstrated than with the tracks Dragonfly and Snowbird, a successive double punch of quality song writing that in the case of the former at least is an exercise in how to touch the listener. A song of realisation which sees the narrator leaving worldly concerns behind while taking time to really see the world around him and his place within it. The latter is a more traditional story of an artist’s self destruction in which we all get to watch as the character moves from the innocence of childhood to the wreckage of her adult years.
Silver & Fire as a collection is one of considerable strengths and very few weaknesses. As a whole the songs sit well together, flowing seamlessly from one to the other comfortably. That’s not to say the album is perfect but at its weakest it does a reasonable job of showing other singers and songwriters how it’s done. And even if this isn’t what you would normally consider your taste in music then this might be as good a place as any to get yourself an introduction.