Georgia Fair - All Through Winter
All Through Winter may be its official title, but for singer/songwriters Jordan Wilson and Ben Riley – the Sydney duo behind Georgia Fair – their debut longplayer was nearly christened with another, more unusual name...
“We were going to call the record Ribs and Reverb at one stage,” jokes Jordan cheerfully, “simply because we were eating ribs all the time, and putting reverb on everything.”
With their organic, low-key harmonies and sophisticated, acoustic folk-pop, Newport, NSW, outfit Georgia Fair have delivered upon the promise of 2010’s Times Fly EP with an evocative, winsome debut album. Recorded in the snow-covered mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, All Through Winter is an album which immediately announces itself as one of 2011’s most impressive local offerings.
With years of friendship between them (Ben and Jordan first meeting in the early years of high school, bonding during frequent raids of their dads’ record collections), Georgia Fair’s easy-going, melodic touch belies their young years. Having toured with the likes of Megan Washington, Daniel Lee Kendall and Lisa Mitchell (who popped up alongside fellow guest Boy & Bear on the band’s single “Marianne”), for their first full-length LP Georgia Fair found a firm friend in All Through Winter producer Bill Reynolds – bassist with acclaimed American outfit Band of Horses.
It may be a relaxed, gentle listen, but there’s nothing lightweight about the songwriting behind All Through Winter – like rollicking first single “Where You Been?”; the jaunty, cheerful swing of “Remember Me”; the heavy, dramatic unleashing that is “Blind”; the back-to-basics, folk lovin’ dreams of “Simple Man”. “This record feels like our first true, honest offering,” Ben insists. “If you listen to our very first self-titled EP compared to this, I feel like we’re really showing what we’re about, what our character really is a lot more. We’re more open here. And we certainly feel that Bill really helped capture that.”
Already long-time fans of the acclaimed Southern rockers, despite enduring an uncomfortable delay over the telephone during their very first conversation with Reynolds, Jordan and Ben knew instantly they’d found their man. “We love Band of Horses,” Jordan enthuses. “It was one of those lucky things that worked out. We had a connection from the very beginning – Bill was our kind of guy. That first conversation there was a lot of us asking questions like, ‘Do you love Dylan?’ Yeah man, I love Dylan!’ That sort of music fandom we had in common really cemented it.”
Indeed, Reynolds was up for it. “Bill just said, ‘Come over and eat ribs with me, I’m lonely,” Ben laughs.
Having demoed their new material in a friend’s attic on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, after crossing the Pacific for the very first time Georgia Fair holed up for five weeks in a small, mountain-top cottage in Asheville. It was an experience of many firsts: the first longplayer, the first time they’d seen snow. Reynolds moved in – there was plenty of stir-fries – and the trio began work, tracking in the converted church studio of Echo Mountain Recording.
“Band of Horses had just recorded their third album [Infinite Arms] there,” Jordan explains. “It was very chilled, a totally relaxed vibe. Being an old church, the surroundings were very inviting, warm and welcoming. Not intimidating at all.”
While they fell in love with the myriad of gear on offer at Echo Mountain – “amazing guitars I loved using,” Ben grins – the ethos was: keep it simple, make it direct. Reynolds brought in a variety of close musician friends to add colour to each song Georgia Fair unveiled, including fellow BOH alumni Tyler Ramsey, while instruments such as piano, Mellotron, mandolin and Omnichord were run through endless pedals. “Bill was always going, ‘You have to get the magic, man!’” Jordan laughs.
For Reynolds, the appeal of working with the talented newcomers was impossible to resist.
“It’s once in a blue moon that I come across a group with such great harmonies and great songs,” he attests. “When my manager sent me the demos for the LP I knew I had to find a way to work with them.”
Set to hit the road throughout September/October supporting the Panics, Georgia Fair have delivered an album which won’t be easily forgotten. From cruisey, Sunday afternoon singalongs to introspective, acoustic folk, All Through Winter is one confident, accomplished listen.
“Ever since Ben and I have been playing together, doing our first record has been the biggest dream for us,” Jordan says. “We were searching for an album title, and after we got back we realised we’d been through a really long winter – plus, it also captured the journey of what we’ve been through. In the studio in Asheville, Bill said to us, ‘This is your house to play in.’ I don’t think it could have turned out any better.”