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Lorrie Singer and Bradley Kopp have known each other a long time but it is only in recent years that they have become a married couple and musical partnership. Based in Austin, I believe this is their second album together and they got old friend Iain Matthews on board as a collaborator - song-picker, singer, guitarist and voice of experience.  He wrote the sleeve notes, too, and says "...the hooks are undeniable...they have the songs and the fire". Well, sleevenotes are meant to be effusive but this really is a very strong album. It's hard to say that it's squarely in any one particular genre, but I would say the default setting is modern radio friendly commercial country. That is to say, there are enough songs here to be picked out for radio play that would sound bright and shiny enough to tempt punters in to buying the whole album. Once they do, they'll discover there's quite a bit more to these guys than a few hooks, some nice harmonies and some classy electric guitar, modern Nashville-style.

           Nine of these thirteen songs are written by one or both of Lorrie and Bradley, with Iain Matthews getting a co-write credit on four of those. There's a strain of sentimentality in the writing that maybe doesn't bear too close a scrutiny (The Savage Ways Of Man, for example, makes John Lennon's Imagine sound like hardcore political philosophy), but there's a thoughtful social awareness at work, too, which will resonate with people - whether it's the post-Katrina song Radio Car or the epic, angry Uncle Ben's House with its strong echoes of CSNY, circa 1970. Of the cover songs, America Walking By shows these guys at their most tender and gentle, with their voices harmonising beautifully. Actually, their voices also work really well together at full tilt, and the major part of this record has some really beefy arrangements that require strong vocal leadership - which they deliver.

           Overall, though, there's three things which make this record well worth checking out for me. One is Lorrie Singer's , err, singing. Once or twice the song doesn't seem quite right for her but, at her best, she's got a great feel for a lyric and how to put it over. The second is Bradley Kopp's guitar playing; he does a lot of engineering/producing these days but he made his name as a guitarist and it shows. Whether it's electric or acoustic, he's a very eloquent, fluid player who can also bring that controlled aggression to his playing that is much in evidence in commercial country music these days. One highlight from his playing is the delicate-yet-strong outro on acoustic guitar with which he embellishes The Savage Ways Of Man, but there are many others. Finally, the third is their cover of Krista Detor's song, Rich Man's Life. If it's ok to judge musicians by their cover versions, then these guys know just what they're about. They bring so much out of this song which isn't at all obvious in the original version, beautiful as that is. The original is clothed in an air of mystery but Lorrie and Bradley bring the song's scene to vibrant life and also bring out the playfulness in the lyric.  Good stuff all round, then.

John Davy


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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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