‘Mirador’ is originally a Catalan word, meaning ‘looking’ or ‘seeing’. It is now often used to describe a tower built specifically to provide a scenic view. On this, their first full-length album release, Paris-based Americana and bluegrass trio Fierce Flowers produce an eclectic panorama of songs, influenced by both Oldtime and bluegrass music from the Appalachian mountains, and also by the traditions of European folk and dance.
When French guitarist Léopoldine Guillaume, German violin and banjo player Julia Zech and American/Armenian double bassist Shushan Kerovpyan first met in 2016, it was aboard the Anako, a canal barge docked in La Villette Bassin, in Paris’ 19ème arrondissement. The trio began playing together, their voices locking together in a mélange of close harmony, individual instruments coalescing into a pattern of danceable rhythms and rooted arrangements, and all housed within original songs written in both English and French. An eponymous 7-track EP was released in 2017, and they have since toured throughout Europe, as well as visiting the UK and the United States.
What will impress with this latest release is the diversity of traditional musical styles and influences incorporated into the twelve tracks on ‘Mirador’. From the upbeat opening song ‘Dance To The Open Road’, to the brief and quirky ‘Underwear In A Letter’ which brings the album to a close, ‘Mirador’ is a constantly evolving potpourri of delight and surprise. The jazz-tinged folk of the title track is swiftly followed by a swamp blues stomp, ‘Tell Me No’ and then the Appalachian style folk ballad ‘La Corde’. The uplifting ‘Thorny Path’ has Zech playing both violin and banjo, even taking her bow to the banjo during the middle eight solo. ‘Cette Ronde’ is a fine example of French bluegrass (l’herbe bleue?) which is almost créole in character, whilst acappella harmonies in ‘Deux Pierres Noires’ are spine-tinglingly tight. ‘Belle Paresse’ is a love song with a distinctly Eastern feel, yet ‘Tell Me Lies’ is closer to Country and Western in its character.
Fierce Flowers have not just embraced Americana, they have grabbed it by the lapels and plunged it into their own pot-boiler blend of Parisian and European flavours. The trio manage to switch seamlessly between English and French, with all three taking a turn on lead vocals, and knitting each instrument into a patchwork swathe of rhythm and melody. They are an ensemble whose music is an absolute delectation to discover. Bon appetit!