Album Review: The Marrieds – Fire in the Flame – (NewMusicFriday Winner Ep 8)
The Marrieds are a talented folk duo that seems to be able to explore deeply human emotions with sweet, subtle music. They offer a bilingual mix of music that is sure to please a lot of fans across the world. What makes them so attractive to me, though, is not just the quality of the music but also the overall ethos of the band. As “Fingers Crossed” states, “when all is lost, I won’t give up on you.” That’s a message worth hearing.
The opening track offers a gentle mix of English and French lyrics, dancing around a soft and gentle melody. Similarly, the second track “Fingers Crossed” brings a serious romantic tenor to the album. “There’s something about there for you and me” is a call to pursue new opportunities with a partner; it’s a challenge to go above and beyond ordinary life. The strings provide a beautiful backing to what is a delightful song from start to finish. It is, in many ways, The Marrieds at their best.
I love the fingerpicking in the opening of “June.” The lead vocal from Jane Carmichael are exquisite and clear. They conjure images of a bygone era in country music with the classic era of American folk music. With the two blended together, including a softening on those iconic styles, Carmichael seems to deliver poetic lines with ease. The song’s message about making the most of the summer months makes me flash back to my late teen years, spending long days and nights with my own dear friends. When music can do that, it’s successful.
“Burning Heart” picks up the pace with a sound that reminds me a bit of The Wind and the Wave for me. The banjo part on this track keeps the boots a’kickin’ for sure. The following “A Girl Said Yes” finally gives Kevin Kennedy a well-deserved place at the lead of the track. Carmichael still plays a prominent role, but this track is a fantastic duo track. The sentiment of the song is a bit more rock than it is folk, but the sound toes the line nicely. As the two do a call-and-response duo, the listener feels pulled into an intriguing romance.
“Turquoise Blue” returns to a gentler sound that seems to be in The Marrieds’ wheelhouse. It leads to the interesting and bluesy, “Rita.” The harmonies on “Rita” are pretty solid, allowing the rest of the 60s-influenced Americana (or I guess it would be Canadiana…) sound to really shine. It’s almost like you can hear the band smiling on this one. It reminds me of “Proud Mary” by CCR.
“Bungalow” is a story about a house, but obviously about much more. The song’s structure is pure folk with an acoustic guitar walking slowly and a beautiful melody delivered by Carmichael. Sitting in the first home I purchased with my wife while I write this, of course the track brings back some pretty sweet emotions for me. The imagery in the song about sparrows and love and having it all is Dickensian. It’s also pretty darn adorable. The string work is so good that it almost gets through without notice, but it works nice. Oh, and heck, there’s even an accordion.
The final track is the title track “Fire in the Flame.” It is an intense song about love and an existential reflection on romance. It’s not just about lust or some idealized vision of love. Instead the song is about the exigencies of a long life of love and loss. “Will you still hold me if I’m the only one to blame? Will you still show me there’s still fire in this flame?” The instrumentation is a country folk blend, but the overall product is a captivating song about raw romance. It’s a song about real love and it’s enough to melt your cold heart.
This is a lovely album for fans of folk music. It’s obvious that The Marrieds have experience performing at a high level. The songs come across with a particular kind of soft vulnerability that draws the listener into the art organically. Yet the stellar songwriting and loving disposition make the listener also think hard life in unique ways. Like all good art, Fire in the Flame is an album that transcends genre or style and moves into something delightfully reflective.