Even though UK-born and France-based folk singer Piers Faccini often describes himself as a solitary songwriter, the musician nevertheless seems to thrive on collaborations. Having partnered with Dom La Nena, Jenny Lysander, the BKO Quintet or with French cellist Vincent Segal on the wonderful Songs of Time Lost amongst others, Piers Faccini recently collaborated with American singer songwriter Dawn Landes. The end result is the beautiful Desert Songs EP released on January 15th 2016 last on his own Beating Drum records and distributed in North and South America by 6 Degrees Records.
Both singers first met in 2013 when Piers Faccini invited Dawn Landes to record Lead Belly’s There’s a man going round taking names, song cover #18 of his ongoing Songs I love project. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Brooklyn-based Dawn Landes has released 5 LPs to date, as well as two EPs including the all-French “Mal Habillée” (2012).
The music on the EP was recorded in Faccini’s home studio based in the Cévennes, the remote foothills in south-central France which naturally lend themselves to contemplation and reflection.
The bare autumnal skies and rugged mountainous landscapes provided the perfect backdrop for their collaboration. In between sessions, they walked the footpaths in the hills around the studio, swopping tales of the mystics and seekers that inspired the stories and lyrics in Desert Songs. Where Dawn would quote the Desert Fathers or Thomas Merton, Piers would cite Sufi poets Rumi and Hafez or the poems of St John of the Cross. Piers Faccini
Songs like “We Come and Go” also have a definite “Desert Blues” echo with Piers Faccini’s West African-tinged guitar style reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré for instance. Indeed, Desert Songs also features a Malian Kora as well as a national resonator guitar, all blending beautifully with the voices in unison, harmony or call and response style to create a dreamlike and ethereal atmosphere throughout.
And consistent with the rest of the EP, “Heaven’s Gate” is a wonderful minimalist gem of a folk song.