3 stars (out of 4)
The first album in eight years from
They came up with some keepers. The songs are packed with vivid details of death, despair, hollowed-out hope, sung as matters of fate in a voice tinged by melancholy but never melodrama. Each is framed by the sparsest of acoustic instrumentation, little more than guitars, banjos and harmonica played by the duo, a brilliant mini-bluegrass band. The sound is beautiful in its own way, despite the often dire subject matter.
It's difficult to fault the songs or the performances, but the hand's off presentation is conservative to a fault, as if the duo were trying not to break the fine china. The thigh-slapping rhythm that nudges along "Six White Horses" is a welcome change of pace, a brief taste of jauntiness on an album that could've used a touch more bravado.