Mary Fahl – Love & Gravity
Album Review of Mary Fahl: Love & Gravity
Mary Fahl‘s powerful, emotional voice stands out, powering this disc that’s probably best categorized as folk, but there’s a power that suggests a concert hall might more nearly contain Mary’s voice than a coffeeshop. It’s as if her voice is echoing through a lush, green, hilly region of the Irish countryside, an image I’ve selected because there’s a bit of almost-operatic Irish folk sound powering Mary’s often-booming yet sensitive vocals. As a result, Love & Gravity occasionally courts the intersection between folk and classical; that’s interesting because I was previously scarcely aware there was such an intersection.
Love & Gravity, a 2014 release, is Mary’s fourth studio album since 2001. She also recorded two albums as a member of chamber pop group October Project in the 1990s.
The album opens with “Exiles (The Wolves of Midwinter),” its haunting power and orchestration providing a striking introduction to Love & Gravity. It’s followed immediately by soaring, echoing “How Much Love,” currently my personal favorite in the collection.
Perhaps the immediately easiest-to-absorb track on the disc is Mary’s exceptionally soaring, emotionally rising and falling cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” though that’s partially due to its instant familiarity. But also partially due to Mary’s exceptional arrangement and delivery, since this song, as performed, is clearly a Mary Fahl song, performed in her own style. Though I’ve heard this song covered a number of times, this is far and away my favorite version ever. You can hear the vocal power soar… and drop. Boom. Wow!
“Gravity (Move Mountains, Turn Rivers Around)” is one of those folky songs of power and understanding, a song that takes a thoughtful journey through its own lyrics. And, of course, because of Mary’s amazing voice, the song soars, booms, and roars, quietly and with lush orchestration.
The most ethereal track on the disc is probably “Siren,” a soft, gentle, otherworldly number. Another quickly enjoyable track because of the familiarity with those referenced in the song, is the emphatically, powerfully romantic “Like Johnny Loved June.” (That’d be Johnny Cash and June Carter, of course.)
Mary lends that Irish folky, soaring power to “Dawning of the Day,” her tribute to the 9/11 rescue workers, before closing the disc with an almost lullaby of a tune, though clearly embellished with the vocal power and emotion of a Mary Fahl song, “Meant to Be.”
I know it was released a couple years ago, and so I’m a bit late to the party, but it should be clear I have a particular soft spot for amazing vocalists, and in that respect, Mary Fahl’s Love & Gravity is a gem that seems to capture the spirit and quality of her vocal prowess.
Mary has several dates already booked for 2017, beginning with Saturday, January 21st in Auburn, NY; Saturday, February 11th in Beacon, NY; and Saturday, February 18th in New Hartford, CT. To find out more information about these dates and see future bookings, currently including scheduled shows from Maine to Georgia to Texas, see the performance dates page of Mary’s website. There’s a May 20th date at Club Passim in Boston; I’ll have that one circled, watching my calendar as it takes shape this spring, hoping my schedule will allow me to get to it.