May 17, 2004

Faun Fables "Family Album"

Faun Fableas fooled me. Though I know they're a current band who just released their first record for Drag City (third overall), I kept looking to find the true story of Faun Fables. I'm convinced that this record really came out sometime between 1968 and 1973 on Warner Brothers or Elektra and that this is a wonderful reissue of a long-lost band. Family Album could--and should--rightfully count Tim Buckley, Pearls Before Swine, Nico, Incredible String Band and Sandy Denny as their contemporaries. Could it be that Drag City has pulled some strings or went through a time machine to find this duo? Considering some of the magical records they've released, I wouldn't put it past them.

It's quite obvious that the folk stylings of Dawn McCarthy (aka Dawn the Fawn) and Nic Frykdahl are certainly not modern, but they're certainly not folk revivalists. They've made a record that's incongrous with everybody--which, of course, goes without saying when all of the bands you could count as their contemporaries made records that are still ahead of their time over thirty years ago! Okay, so they're not really from three decades ago--I doubt they're not even thirty years old--but their sound is most definitely indebted to that particular period of time.

The recognition that you're in for something magical with Family Album is almost immediate. The intoxicating flute of "Eyes of a Bird" seduce you quite quickly, and when McCarthy starts singing, her strong, husky voice (which reminds me an awful lot of Grace Slick) will unapologetically seduce you into a netherworld of sonic dlelights. When Frykdahl sings on "Still Here" and "Joshua," he sings in a dark style which recalls David Bowie's early, pre-glam records. With twinkling piano, vibes, and guitar, the duo create music that's mystical, transporting you to worlds you've never known before--and you won't want to leave them, either. The addition of a little girl singing her own song on "Nap of Time" is a surreal, almost disturbing touch. The real winner here is "Carousel with Madonnas," an upbeat song that sounds a lot like it should have come from Hair.

Family Album is simply beautiful, and is one of the most captivating records this year. It's a beautiful record, and though some might be put off by the fantasy-style of the lyrics, don't let that hold you back; this record will reveal itself after a listen or two, and you'll quickly be enthralled. You've not heard anything quite like Faun Fables, so please, allow yourself the pleasure of this quirky young band, and you won't be disappointed.

--Joseph Kyle

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