sat 22/01/2022

CD: Duotone - Ropes | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Duotone - Ropes

CD: Duotone - Ropes

A light, satisfying delight, like a perfectly executed sponge cake

Duotone: Barney Morse-Brown and James Garrett

Duotone duo have hit upon a pared-down, beautifully crafted acoustic sound, which proves what richness lies in simplicity. Like a perfectly executed sponge cake, their music is light, satisfying and a delight. But, as with any confection, the sweetness can be overpowering.

Barney Morse-Brown (a session cellist for The Imagined Village and Chris Wood’s Handmade Life) and James Garrett (singer-songwriter and percussionist) are supremely assured musicians. This, their second album - a follow-up to their excellent 2009 debut, Work Harder and One Day You’ll Find Her - starts brilliantly with a compelling and unusual track “Walking to the Shore” which testifies to the subtlety and cleverness of their arrangements.

As a whole the album is well-paced. It is a journey that takes in scenery from traditional folk, as well as a more dangerous and winding, percussive pathway, exposing layers of drama and intensity. Highlights include the purely instrumental “Night Walk”, the searing “Broken Earth” and the jolly “This Song is for You”. Recorded in Dorset, it has a refreshing, seaside feel. During the first track you can hear the squawking of what may be seagulls overhead. It is the sort of music you can imagine being strummed gently around a beach camp fire.

There are moments, such as during “Set it Down”, when the emotiveness of the songs tilts from edifying to overpowering. It is a hard balance to maintain, obviously. The sincerity of what is being expressed is after all what gives it such effectiveness. To my taste it is at times too rich, too saccharine. But the final track, “Picture Box”, serves as a tonic for the overly sweet sentiments and the album ends on a note almost as exciting as the one it begins on with a lilting, minimalist story in song.

Recorded in Dorset, it has a refreshing, seaside feel. You can hear the squawking of what might be seagulls overhead


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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