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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.
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