Folk duo Oakes and Smith lull us with haunting vocals on their EP, ‘Evergreen’.
Partners in life as well as music, Robert and Katherine Oakes (formerly Smith) both came from musical families, performing and writing from a young age. They first met in 2007, when Smith helped Oakes with his first full-length album, ‘Heart Broken Open’. Kate saw videos of Robert performing with his one of his former bands, and told him he could do that once again. Kate had been performing other people’s music, old jazz standards, cover work. Not long after that, they started working together, writing and performing their own music.
Their debut album, ‘First Flight’, was about taking a leap of faith. Mixed by Grammy award winning engineer, Oz Fritz, it was released in November 2013 to great acclaim.
Following this up with two Christmas singles,’The Holy Moment’ in 2013, and and ‘Gabriel’s Message’ in 2014, the duo released their first EP, ‘Evergreen’, in August last year.
‘Evergreen’ is a four track EP filled with music and lyrics that take the listener on a journey conjuring up visions of leafy glades and country walks. This isn’t coincidental. Oakes and Smith’s music is heavily influenced by The Berkshires, Massachusetts where they live. The duo describe the area as “a peaceful place filled with natural and cultural beauty.” This is reflected in the EPs placid character. Lush harmonies and multi-textured instrumentation transport us deep into the forest, and convey a feeling of life going on all around us, and this is further emphasised in the titles chosen: ‘Song of the Open Road’; ‘Sitting Beside a Giant’; ‘Evergreen’ and; ‘The New Year’.
It’s hard to choose a favourite track, but it would be a toss up between title track ‘Evergreen’, and EP closer, ‘The New Year’. Both have the gorgeous harmonies, but the first is about life and death, while the second is about new life – “I feel free”.
Also appearing on the EP are Gregoire Pearce playing nylon string and electric guitar, Justin Hillman playing acoustic guitar and providing backing vocals, Alexander Sovronsky on violin, and Rhees Williams on bass. ‘Evergreen’ was produced by Oakes and Smith with Justin Hillman. It was engineered by Tim Peck with recording students at the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticut, and by Justin Hillman, who also mixed it. Mastering was by Garrett Haines.
Listen to ‘Evergreen’: