Sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith, better known as Rising Appalachia, are no strangers to reimagining music on their terms, in their voices. They recently released “a haunting cover of James Blake’s “I Need A Forest Fire” from his 2016 LP, The Colour In Anything.” As described in a recent press release, the song “may be one of the most creatively executed reworkings in recent memory. Originally featuring the distinct falsetto of Bon Iver, Blake’s arrangement of sparse drums, vocal samples, and synthesizers has been traded for a slow-grooving, acoustic replication, full of lush harmonies and rhythmically fingerpicked guitars. The resulting record gives the song a more organic feel, closer to the cedar smoke of which Rising Appalachia sings. Of course, the forest fire in question is more figurative in nature; a commentary on necessary rebirth—life’s second chances.”
“Touched by the powerful lyrics and sculpted sonics of James Blake, this is our folk rendition of a powerful song about the elemental destruction of the overgrown ego and its havoc through the catharsis of flames,” says Leah.
Fans can stream or purchase Rising Appalachia’s version of “I Need A Forest Fire” now at this link.
What drew you to reimagine James Blake’s “I Need a Forest Fire”?
We have admired James Blake’s work for quite some time. It has depth, class, soul, and abstract motifs. This has been a favorite and when our band began talking about doing a few hand-selected pop covers (pop being a loose term), this song came to mind as a one that would be fun to play around with on folk instrumentation.
You put a very beautiful organic spin on the song. How did you approach the arrangement, and what was the recording process?
We have a loose style of arrangement. We run things over before the studio but try really hard not to over-practice anything or adhere to a strict version. Most of the magical moments we have had in the studio came with some sort of spontaneity and surprise in the session. With “I need a forest fire” we let the cello lead and layered the vocals on live, playing with eachothers swells and highlights.
Is there a particular lyric that speaks to you?
Yes, I love the line “burn it like cedar.” It draws to mind burning as a cleansing and clearing, a sense of ritual and intention. Not a wildfire but a burning with meaning and thought behind it.
Catch Rising Appalachia On Tour:
June 10 & 11 – Garrettsville, OH – Pyro Art and Music Festival 2022
June 16 – Telluride, CO – Telluride Bluegrass Festival 2022
July 9 – Asheville, NC – Salvage Station
July 24 – Reno, NV – Artown
July 25 & 26 – Petaluma, CA – The Mystic
July 28 – Berkeley, CA – The UC Theatre
July 30 – Big Sur, CA – Tree Bones
Aug. 2 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
Aug. 3 – Seattle, WA – The Neptune
Aug.t 5 – Ninilchik, AK – Salmonfest 2022
Sept. 3 – Boulder, CO – The Colorado Chautauqua
Sept. 5 – Buena Vista, CO – The Lawn at The Surf Hotel
Sept. 9 – Park City, UT – Park City Song Summit
Oct. 8 – Pelham, TN – The Caverns
For ticket information, visit risingappalachia.com/tour.