It’s been more than a decade and a half since the Cocteau Twins, one of Britain’s most spellbinding pop groups, split up. In the intervening 17 years only guitarist Robin Guthrie could be said to have been musically prolific.
Singer Elizabeth Fraser has released just one limited edition 12in single under her own name while bass player Simon Raymonde’s solo career went no further than the 1998 album Blame Someone Else before he devoted his time on his record label Bella Union.
In the press notes for this collaboration with Wisconsin singer songwriter Stephanie Dosen, he says:”I never intended the Cocteau Twins to be my last band but frankly I wasn’t just going to jump back on any old nag for the sake of it.”
It took the offer of a free baby grand piano on Gumtree and “a really special singer” to get him writing songs again.
Exchanging music with North Carolina-based Dosen over the internet, they gradually crafted this enchanting, atmospheric collection of 11 tracks that in effect picks up the Cocteau Twins’ mantle all these years on.
The song titles are peppered with allusions to the natural world – I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Charming Birds From the Trees, Where Foxes Lie, We Carry White Mice – and throughout this album there’s a spirit of wide-eyed wonder.
Dosen’s high, breathy vocals are pleasing light as a feather while Raymonde’s arrangements are sweet and luminous.
The pair may not have survived as a couple but the music of Snowbird is a delight.