The gentle folk/Americana debut self-release by songwriters Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer – Seed Of A Pine (2012) – was a rather fine, if somewhat understated example of the genre. Deploying the ‘less is more principle’ the delicate balance achieved by McGraw’s smooth baritone and Fer’s beautifully restrained vocals, underpinned by some subtle backings, made the pair’s first official collaboration a GRTR! recommendation.
Their follow up, Maritime, recorded in their home in a quiet forest in northwest Washington over the course of 8 days in spring 2014 reunites them with producer Zach Goheen (Birds of Chicago, Po’ Girl), to record 12 new tracks – as live as possible in the environment that inspired them. And it’s another superbly crafted collection folk, indie-rock, and Americana.
With subtle contributions from drummer Andre Lauher, Christopher Merill (Birds of Chicago) – bass, Sarah Von Dassow – cello, Mike Grigon – lap steel, and Jerome Holloway – harmony vocals on Helicopter, the warm emotive and organic delivery, and Fer’s own distinctive guitar work envelop the listener in a wholesome cocoon that feels like your favourite snuggly jumper.
But ultimately, it’s the outstanding songwriting and vocals of both Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer that lift the duo into a stratosphere miles above the rest. Nothing flashy, just quality with a capital Q. They play a short UK tour in late September/early October – catch them if you can.