Saint Marie is one of the more substantial nonalbum Piano Magic
releases, not just for its near-album length (27 minutes). Beyond
one throwaway, there are four songs that aren't deserving of rarity
status. The title track is a new version of the lead-off from The
Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic, recorded with Low's Alan Sparhawk on
lead vocals (the original featured PM head Glen Johnson). Both
versions are equally powerful. Both "Fantasia on Old English Airs"
and "Lalo" are solemn instrumentals, the former being windswept and
dramatic while the latter involves a lone, lyrical acoustic guitar
that owes a bit to Bert Jansch. "Dark Ages" is one of the most
unsettling songs the group has recorded, dreamily amorphous and
spooky. "Wrong Turn," an obvious nod to mid-'80s Nick Cave &
the Bad Seeds, is wonderfully swampy and sinewy; Sparhawk returns
to bellow (one might expect to hear the ghost of Jim Morrison pop
in at any moment to join with "Mister mojo risin'"). ~ Andy Kellman
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