Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer are natural explorers.
McGraw spent a decade as a wildlife biologist, working everywhere from Mexico to the Grand Canyon. Fer logged some time in Spain, where she studied music and local culture. Together, the two songwriters have built a music career on those travels, funneling everything - the characters they met, the things they saw, the sounds they heard, the stories they learned - into a mix of rich, detailed folk music and rootsy Americana.
Seed of a Pine itself was recorded in Chicago during the summer of 2011 with renowned producer Zach Goheen and includes contributions from a litany of acclaimed musicians, including Wisconsin singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey, Po’Girl/Birds of Chicago songstress Allison Russell, and JT Nero (Birds of Chicago). Released February 15th, 2012. With this release of the songwriters’ first official collaboration, the duo’s striking ability to blend their lush folk and Americana-influenced styles is on full display.
McGraw’s consoling, velvety baritone voice, reminiscent of Greg Brown, coupled with Fer’s soaring and subtly powerful vocal approach, likened to that of Patty Griffin, puts a spit-shine polish on the finely crafted body of songs they have generated together. The intricate weavings of their vocal harmonies are undeniably exceptional. McGraw’s hard-hitting tunes echo narratives of the culture and landscape of the American West, wherein he thoughtfully spins tales of everyday folks looking for a little something more in their earthly existence. Fer takes a more dreamy approach, evoking complex and ethereal imagery within her sultry and haunting melodies. Her potent electric lead guitar playing, in the vein of jazz-fusion guitarist John Scofield, bravely propels this duo through their uniquely heartfelt and spirited live performances, winning over audiences night after night.
McGraw and Fer have amassed an admirable résumé and an ever-expanding fan base during their time playing music together. Having toured Europe and the U.S. from coast to coast, performing in highly esteemed theaters to intimate listening rooms, the pair has honed their skills sharing stages with fellow troubadours including Willy Porter, The Swell Season, Tony Furtado, Jeffrey Foucault and many others.
Dave and Mandy currently reside on an island in northwest Washington.
"I could talk about all of the songs on this album [Seed of a Pine] until the cows come home. Honestly this is one of those...albums which 'had me at hello.' If you're a fan of modern folk and americana, you can't go wrong with Seed of a Pine."
-Seattle Post Intelligencer - BlogCritics.org
9 out of 10 score - "This is an excellent album...this duo seem to thrive on the beautiful things around us all and have an ability to make the listener stop and maybe appreciate the wonders of this world for a little longer than we would normally..."
"...quite distinctive...and very enjoyable...The playing and production [on Seed of a Pine] is beautiful, rich and enigmatic like the lyrics...It feels like we’re being drawn into some very serious minded quest, a search for truth and purpose..."
"Together they [Dave and Mandy] have crafted an album that positively brims with excellent songs, fine playing and exquisite vocals."
"All of the songs tell stories that take you places you want to go. Fer and McGraw know how to pen a tune that keeps the listener hanging on each word...Seed of a Pine is my best recording of the year."
-F.A.M.E. (Roberta Schwartz)
"This album must be heard...It is easy to see why these two decided to combine their talents – they have a musical affinity which is borne out in a magical way on this album...Magnificent stuff! Seed of a Pine is packed with emotive and beautiful songs which brilliantly showcases their talent. This is an album which deserves some serious recognition."
-Folk Radio UK
"...don't put the disc [Seed of a Pine] on and then run the vacuum cleaner or jump on the telephone. Sit down and listen. It's the at-home sonic version of going to a museum."
-the Buzz About
"[Seed of a Pine] is a smooth and impressive slice of Americana...McGraw and Fer deserve wider recognition."
-The Telegraph (UK)
"Singer/songwriters Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer have a knack for capturing the passionate beauty of original contemporary folk music. Evoking tranquility and reflection, their frank lyrics and life-affirming tales are woven around melodic lines that hold the fabric together...this debut collaboration [Seed of a Pine] is a perfect showcase..."
-Roots Music Report
"[Seed of a Pine] is an album rather than just a collection of songs and the collective experience will draw you in...This is music that is washed with the watercolour tones of the cover artwork - soft brush strokes that bleed their colours together into a pleasing whole."
-Lonesome Highway (UK)
"Every now and then an album comes along that is so good, you just can't get anything else done...I have this problem at the moment with Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer's first official collaboration album, which as far as problems go, isn't such a bad one. With an immediately warm and soothing feel to the record, the rich acoustic sound and perfectly pitched vocals courtesy of both singers, together with some fine electric guitar playing makes SEED OF A PINE essential listening...some of the most delicious harmonies to have reached this reviewer's ears thus far..."
-Northern Sky Music Magazine (UK)
"There is a delightful synergy between McGraw & Fer...[Seed of a Pine] has become a real favourite of mine very quickly, one of those albums you find yourself dipping into time and again just to enjoy the little moments."
"[Seed of a Pine] is full of colour, mother nature and lovely harmonies..."
- Beat Surrender
"...I raise a glass to a record [Seed of a Pine] that will surprise you, lead you to memory, and warm you.... May this music be heard!"
Photos by Kenneth J. Hamilton