While Caitlin Cary's solo albums have made it abundantly clear she can make splendid music by her lonesome, there's no arguing that she collaborates very well indeed, as her work with Whiskeytown and Tres Chicas has proven. For Begonias, Cary teamed up with another gifted singer/songwriter, her friend Thad Cockrell, and the two mesh beautifully on these sessions. Cockrell's voice bears a slight resemblance to Cary's old vocal partner Ryan Adams on this set, and his lonesome tenor blends perfectly with the sweet ache of Cary's instrument; the beauty of their harmonies alone would make this an album worth hearing, but that's hardly Begonias's only virtue. Cary and Cockrell wrote most of these songs together, and they've conjured up a handful of gorgeous meditations on love and its absence, and "Whatever You Want," "Two Different Things," and "Something Less or Something More" reveal a quiet strength and passion that's nearly heartbreaking in its power. The album doesn't rock out much, but "Second Option" shows they know how when they're of a mind, and the backing combo offers marvelously sympathetic support, especially Pete Finney and Pat Buchanan on guitars and Logan Matheny on percussion. And Cary and Cockrell's take on the old Percy Sledge chestnut "Warm & Tender Love" is so beautifully realized that it's enough to make you forget the truly great original. Begonias is an album that was produced on a modest scale, but its beauties and rewards are tremendous, and one can only hope this is the first in a long series of collaborative efforts between this two very compatible artists.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming