erasing clouds

Fire on Fire, Fire on Fire EP

reviewed by dave heaton

There is an exciting old-new dynamic at work in Fire on Fire’s debut EP. Their music resembles old-time folk with a modern energy to it, partly courtesy of twisted vocals that hint of a punk spirit. The number of instruments the band plays seems ‘now’ in a way, though some of the instruments are associated with the past. Three of the group’s five members play banjo, two play upright bass, and Tom Kovacevic plays ud, nay, tamborizta and zamponya. And all five use that most ancient of instruments: the human voice.

Their lyrical references to freedom and struggle sometimes feel like political allegories or statements on our declining times, but they’re worded in a timeless or even ‘old’ way. “My Lady Coffin” has the most modern of references, perhaps, yet also less-time-rooted lines like “with a blade of grass between the thumbs / set the spirit free from your lungs.” Opener “Hangman”’s chorus, “Even the worst of men has friends / even the hangman has friends”, could be from an old coutry song, yet still it resonates now.

For me some of the songs hit harder than others – I love the directness of that first song and of the last, the tender “Three or More”, and the ambiguity yet urgency of “My Lady Coffin”, more than the less fiery “Liberty Unknown” or “Amnesia”’s awkward line “an amnesia worth forgetting / as dangerous as off-track betting.” But the ancient-modern tightrope and the spirited way they dive into these songs – voices, strings and poetry tomes in tow – is invigorating. And the songs are riddled with questions, with words that carry spark. The EP’s final lines stay with me: “And Nancy stands by to remind us / that all solid is ridiculous / Peaches roll past chased by squeaky pups made of glass / receiving a message of bones and apples.”


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