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Album Review: Watson Twins

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | FEBRUARY 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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**** out of *****

Since hitting the indie-music scene in a big way in 2006 with a partnership with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis on Rabbit Fur Coat, the Watson Twins has been all over the map musically — both in terms of style and collaborations. There’s the aforementioned work with Lewis, work with electro-pop provocateur Jimmy Tamborello, and even the group’s own straightforward indie rock on 2008’s Fire Songs.

The Watson Twins’ latest, Talking to You, Talking to Me, combines the many already-seen faces of the duo, but this time the members’ own names and styles make up the record. While the album lacks a certain sense of coherence, it remains a pleasant listen — showing the versatility of the Watson Twins and establishing that the group is more than capable of striking out on its own.

The album takes on a strange arc from the beginning. The first few tracks of Talking begin as jazzy, soulful numbers. Then “Midnight” takes it in another direction entirely, moving into a full-on blues assault. From there, the Watson Twins mixes fast-paced folk such as “Savin’ You” and “Brave One” with more bluesy, country affairs such as “Devil In You.”

Even with all that, where the band truly shines on Talking is the vocals. The two take to the task of mixing different music styles quite well, adapting vocally to each song. They croon, moan, and wail all in the space of the 40-minute album and never miss a beat.

With these several stylistic changes throughout, Talking as a whole is far from coherent, but it doesn’t matter. The 12 songs presented each have something to like. The album may lack a conceptual direction, but the group more than makes up for it by through the song quality.

The track “Devil In You” is easily the best. The song melds solid lyrics about a relationship gone bad with strong, folky blues. Though a heartbreaker, the tune still carries a foot-tapping beat. Other gems include “Midnight,” with a heavy guitar breakdown calling to mind a sightly mellower Jack White. “Tell Me Why” — a delightful ditty blending country doo-wop sensibility and a light jazz feel to great effect — wouldn’t feel out of place in a piano lounge or as a slow number at a good old-fashioned hoedown.

But Talking isn’t without a dud or two. The closing track, “U-N-Me,” pales in comparison with the rest. Though catchy in its own right, the song feels more like filler than a solid closer.

Even though the album is the Watson Twins’ sophomore full-length, it is truly a coming out for the two sisters. It’s clear that they tried to do many things with this album by combining blues, country, and folk — three somewhat similar styles that still possess vast differences.

Though it seems like too much, the two handle the fusion of genres more than capably and show once and for all that their music is strong on its own.


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