The Dutchess & the Duke

Sunset/Sunrise

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz, better known as the Dutchess & the Duke, have opened up their sound just a bit on their second album, Sunset/Sunrise, and though the result still sounds spare and open, given the stark simplicity of their 2008 debut this music represents a subtle but decisive step forward. Greg Ashley of the Gris Gris produced and recorded Sunset/Sunrise, as well as contributing additional guitar and keyboards, and while he doesn't intrude too severely on the duo's low-key punk-folk stylings, the additional layers of organ, percussion, and strings on several tracks not only bring welcome new flavors to the mix, but the richer aural landscape suits the duo's simple but sturdy harmonies, which are noticeably more impressive here. (Lortz takes most of the lead vocals, but Morrison certainly makes the most of her spots and sounds more confident and controlled on these sessions.) Lortz wrote the ten songs on Sunset/Sunrise, and it's obvious that he still loves the Between the Buttons-era Rolling Stones, but this set sounds less clearly derivative as Lortz and Morrison forge a stronger identity of their own with this material, and the songs reveal a greater melodic strength and an expanded palette of emotional shadings. On their first album, the Dutchess & the Duke were seemingly content to document their songs and their harmonies in a straightforward fashion, but Sunset/Sunrise shows that with a bit of judiciously placed accompaniment and a more ambitious use of the studio, the duo can add depth and gravity to music that was fine stuff to begin with.

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