I realized recently that I think maybe a duo is the optimum configuration for a “band”. I’m sure some psychologist could explain it, but it just seems the shared sound comes through more purely. Bands tend to have a leader and it’s generally obvious who that it is. With a duo, everything just seems more equal. That’s certainly obvious in the new release from Watkins Family Hour, entitled brother sister.
Siblings Sara (fiddle) and Sean (guitar) Watkins interweave both instrumental and vocal duties throughout the record. Most obvious in that spirit is an instrumental, Bella And Ivan, about a friend’s pair of wrestling dogs antics. Just Another Reason started with Sean taking lead vocal, but Sara soon jumped in and they traded parts from there on. Miles Of Desert Sun has both a delightfully long instrumental intro and exit with it’s migrant story of “walking together until the promised land.”
For as much as both Watkins are known for instrumental virtuosity, their lyrical chops are what sets the record apart. Fake Badge, Real Gun has almost a pop sound in its biting commentary on self-absorbed authority figures. The rework of Warren Zevon’s Accidentally Like A Martyr goes extra sparse on the instrumental bits and is a beautiful interpretation of the original. Keep It Clean features guest vocalists David Garza, Gaby Moreno, and John C. Reilly in a mad dash cover of a 30’s hit that can only be described as FUN.
Aside from the aforementioned couple of songs, most of brother sister are original compositions. With both of them writing, singing, and playing virtually every section of every song, you end up with a seamless musical journey. It’s all just so natural you’re kind of surprised when the record ends, and a record that’s too short is a good record indeed.
About the author: I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.