Feel the Blues with all that Jazz
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Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough - Mockingbird Soul (2017)

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Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough - Mockingbird Soul (2017)

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01. Everything
02. Broken Fences
03. The Juke
04. Running Round
05. Mockingbird Soul
06. Rainy Day
07. Little Easy
08. I Can Hear Your Voice
09. Honey Bee
10. Carpet Bagger's Lullaby
11. Until Then
12. October Song

Chris Donohue - Acoustic Bass
Will Kimbrough - Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
Brigitte DeMeyer - Vocals, Ukulele

 

Based in Nashville, although they’ve collaborated, both live and on disc, for some six years, Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have never actually recorded as a duo. That’s put to rights now with Mockingbird Soul, their debut album. It’s a stripped back 12-track collection of blues, gospel, folk, country and early jazz, all bar two co-penned by the pair, on which they’re joined by Chris Donohue on acoustic bass and percussion.

It opens on folksy form with the close harmonies of the simple fingerpicked love song Everything. Shifting to the blues, Kimbrough takes the lead on Broken Fences, a lyrically Biblical toned song about restitution and forgiveness. Then, musically speaking, it’s down to New Orleans for the back porch jazzy blues of The Juke, Kimbrough blowing harp as DeMeyer eases down her vocals over the greasy slide groove. A similarly moodily swampy vibe underpins Rainy Day, another DeMeyer lead vocal, here with Chris Wood from the Wood Brothers on upright bass. Wood’s brother Oliver also gets a look in, co-writing and sharing vocals with DeMeyer on the delicate, breathily sung bluesy Carpet Bagger’s Lullaby.

Elsewhere the Kimbrough-sung Running Round has a ragtime feel while Little Easy is a strummed close harmony ballad love letter to Mobile (and his mom). DeMeyer’s sultry sounding Honey Bee harks back to the lazing 40s jug band jazz and, spotlighting Kimbrough’s spare slide work, the plugged-in title track takes DeMeyer into gospel territory. I Hear Your Voice showcases Kimbrough’s terrific fingerpicking, while DeMeyer gets a chance to break out her eight-string ukulele, accompanying herself on the slow step Until Then.

The closing track is the sole cover, with Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough putting The Incredible String Band’s October Song through an Appalachian filter, a great sign-off to a fine album of understated but expertly crafted musicianship. --- Mike Davies, folkradio.co.uk

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