Chris & Carla

Shelter for an Evening

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What turned out to be the first of many albums for this intriguing Walkabouts side project came from live German shows in early 1993, put together to create the overall album. Drawing on their own material as well as a slew of covers, in usual Walkabouts style, Eckman and Torgerson are in wonderful form, their unquestioned abilities around various styles on full display. The sly liner notes read "these shows were not unplugged -- plenty of electricity was used," but that would be the energy of the performance; both sound honestly surprised that people showed up for the concerts, but don't hold back a note once they launch into a fantastic "River Blood." Both Eckman and Torgerson share a variety of stories and explanations for song origins and remakes during the show, enhancing the warm atmosphere of the recording immeasurably. Of the cover choices, "On the Beach" is the most immediately familiar, Neil Young's fine song once again assayed by the two with skill. Then there's Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," which neatly sidesteps the song's propensity for overheated melodrama thanks to the spare, steady delivery, and a fine run on Richard Thompson's "Down Where the Drunkards Roll." Highlights are thick on the ground, but if one song had to be plucked out from them all, "Jack Candy" is the clear revelation. The gripping tale of crime, destruction, and obsession becomes all the more focused with just one acoustic guitar, tambourine, Torgerson's strong lead twang, and Eckman's husked vocals (background). Other winners like "Stir the Ashes" and "Train to Mercy" also shine, played and sung with fire and skill. Concluding with a standard delivered only the way such a great duo can Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," crackling and sparkling at the same time -- Shelter for an Evening is a wonderful recording.