Convincing alt-country from an unfamiliar locale.
Sid Smith 2012-02-09
When they say, “Here’s to George and Tammy, Dolly and Porter, Johnny and June...” you know that the husband-and-wife duo of Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, are tipping their Stetsons in a no-holds-barred homage to the country greats who, as the legends and the records have it, fight like cats and dogs only to fall back in love all over again.
Weston King has plenty of form in this area – not only as a member of 90s British alt-country early adopters The Good Sons, but also as a writer whose songs have enjoyed nods of approval from luminaries like Townes Van Zandt and The Byrds’ Chris Hillman. Despite being brought up in the decidedly un-country setting of downtown Southport, Weston King’s long-term love affair with Americana hasn’t just helped him pay his dues. It’s imbued him with a musical accent that makes him remarkably indistinguishable from the real thing.
Opener By a Thread is a prime example of top-notch writing that is utterly convincing. Meticulously constructed, with chords that wryly allude to Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry’s All I Have to Do Is Dream, Weston King and Dalgleish’s honeyed harmonies possess a careworn resignation that seeps into every pore of the song. With this, and several other heartbreakers and in-their-cups confessionals, you’d swear blind this album’s cuts are lifted straight from the pages of some long-lost country songbook.
With a wealth of subtle and understated performances by the supporting cast, including wistful flourishes from pianist Geraint Watkins, whose on-the-money keyboards have graced albums by Nick Lowe and Van Morrison, this is no unthinking pastiche or smirking parody. Often the pair trade recriminations and play the blame game across alternating verses; yet a closer inspection of the lyrics reveal that Weston King is clearly having a ball with his damned-if-you-do-or-don’t observations: “If we could only spend more time apart / I’m sure that we could find out what we had at the start.”