Court & Spark

Mix together an obsession with Harry Smith’s collections of folk music, native mysticism, ’60s British folk and contemporary Americana and you might begin to get an idea of what to expect from San Francisco band the Court & Spark. Having sought out the harmonies of Linda Thompson for their EP earlier this year, the band have recruited 20 local musicians to give their third album, Witch Season, a fuller, more rich sound than many of its influences. A more subtle album than its predecessor, Witch Season is a record impossible not to attach labels to. Its tries its utmost to avoid the inevitable alt-country tag, which does fit the music to a certain extent, but it is the ambition and maturity that are the more deserved labels for these dozen songs and it makes for a more satisfying record. Combining the atmospherics of Calexico with the melodic skills of Fleetwood Mac, the Court & Spark spin yarns that stay true to their geography. There’s something about their music which is so indicative of California, but only in the same way that the Beach Boys were a surf band. There’s not a note wasted here, with every song just saying exactly what it needs to before coming to an end. It probably won’t reveal its true majesty until the fourth or fifth listen, but perseverance will pay off because Witch Season is a welcome addition to an already impressive discography from a band whose genius must surely be recognised this time around.