This album is a great example of how a listener’s preconceptions of certain musical styles and techniques can blind them from the art. If I were to summarize this work for myself as an indie/country folk album written by a female duo, which is really its public label, my reaction to it would not have been as strong or meaningful because I would be taking too many things for granted. By going into the listen calling it nothing but an album, I’ve found that musical quality and purposes are much easier to recognize. This album has some exceptional melodic brilliance to it, with most every song revolving around a vocal line that provides great fascination through nice rises and falls that follow very congenial, pleasing patterns. Not all of the melodies were super strong or engaging, but a few songs, most obviously the last three, really showed magnificence in their melodic shape and motivic usage. Another song that accomplished this as well was the second track, “It’s a Shame”, which may end up being one of my favorite songs all year. What that song did exceptionally well was change up the harmonic rhythm enough while maintaining an obvious feeling of home with its paths to and from tonic, which added some small surprise and new delight when paired with the strong melodic shaping. It was too bad that the harmony was never this active or pivotal in the rest of the songs. While the simple harmonic palette was used positively altogether by its ability to sound familiar and welcoming, the only big downfall on this album was that a few songs had rather lackluster rhythm and delivery in the harmonic layer. If there’s simplicity on one side, in this case harmonic language, it’s always nice to get more thought-out nuance and imagination on another side, such as metric accents or chord patterns. That was really the only thing this music missed on its way to greatness. It was especially evident due to the exposure the harmony had thanks to the rather soft-spoken instrumentation with blatant harmonic delivery. The achieved sound was quite excellent, as it fully captured the cozy, habitual feelings that we all crave from time to time. The main highlight of the sound was the vocal harmonies, which were used very well to grow the simple harmonic progressions and provide a countermelody equal to the appeal of the original. The only textural addition I had trouble with wrapping my head around was the slide guitar that crept in occasionally to provide a sensible and tame branch out from the basic acoustic sound, but it came to be a bit extraneous and had too much of a resemblance to the typical boring southern country aesthetic. The organ keyboard had the opposite effect, being a nice colorful addition and resembling a heightened sense of calm and homely atmosphere. The build to the brass and choir in “Hem of Her Dress” was excellent. All of these positives that I’ve pointed out could have easily been overlooked and taken as givens, and therefore not having much effect on me, if I cared too much about stylistic approach or the duo’s musical history. No musical decision should be taken for granted. You can’t just brush this aside because it’s what you think folk musicians, or the band themselves, are supposed to do. This took lots of effort, thought, experience, and emotion to create, even if it comes across as something you’ve heard before on the surface. If you’re listening to the music and not the media, I guarantee you will find something you enjoy on this album, especially if you appreciate depth in emotional comfort.

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