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A good, if not perfect, album
on 20 February 2013
This is a good album overall with some great highlights, but also some weaknesses. It is a collection of songs which were recorded by the Everly Brothers, and Prince Billy and Dawn McCarthy have wisely avoided most of their major hits and have put together a sequence of less well-known tracks. By and large they give the songs a country feel, with fiddle and steel guitar often evident. They have a very good band backing their harmonies, and it works very well much of the time. I like the feel of this album - it brings a new take on the material while respecting it, so that the style is adapted to the songs rather than the other way round. The singing is generally delicate and tender and captures the sense of those fabulous Everly Brothers harmonies even when they don't exactly reproduce the originals.
I do have some reservations. Possibly the best-known song here is Devoted To You and it doesn't quite ring with the poignancy of the original and sounds a little like an exercise in harmony rather than a heartfelt love song. I felt this in a couple of places, and some songs - Empty Boxes, for example - just didn't really work for me. There is a vein of slow sentimentality which can get a bit wearing for the whole album, so their terrific version of Somebody Help Me (the Spencer Davis song) stands out as a rocking gem and I could have done with a dose of something with the more up-tempo drive of Wake Up Little Susie or the wit of Bird Dog, say.
I don't want to be too critical because I do like the album in spite of its weaknesses. It is a good collection of songs from two excellent musicians, most of which are very well sung and arranged. I love the Everlys (I am proud to say that I have seen them in concert) and this is a worthy tribute. It's not a classic, but it's well worth getting.