A Table Forgotten, the new EP from Faun Fables’—and their first new material since 2006—starts off promisingly. “With Words and Cake” is a stomping fun bit of tribal folk, finding Dawn McCarthy and company singing about a child’s birthday party with equal parts joy and snide humor. It’s a song bolstered by layers of percussion, and a particularly lively performance for McCarthy, who is usually known for lilting over a track like keening violins. The song should signal an EP of thumping numbers that are as fun as they are smart and well-composed. And, were it just that song and the gypsy bounce of the title track, that is exactly what it would be. But the other two tracks here are typical and dragging folk music. A few instrumental flourishes can’t help their dirge pace, and even the rise and fall of drums, and the heavy distortion and choral voices on “Winter Sleep” can’t inject with any energy. They try their best, going high and lonesome on the chorus of the closing track, but it just isn’t enough. “Pictures” in particular seems barely there in comparison to the EPs better moments. The full-band numbers here are so much better than the slow more lonesome work, one wonders why they don’t just commit to their fuller sound. Because those slow numbers aren’t ballads, they’re speed bumps.
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