Carrying On

Kacy & Clayton

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Carrying On Review

by Mark Deming

On their early albums, Kacy & Clayton sounded like they had the potential to become Canada's answer to Richard & Linda Thompson (except without the fiery romantic breakup, since they happen to be cousins), with a dash of Ian & Sylvia added in the name of national pride. On their fourth album, 2019's Carrying On, the duo have changed the proportions, and the material has a stronger country feel than before, not unlike the moody prairie ambience of the folk titans of the North. The songs also have a downbeat but homey quality that bears no small resemblance to Ian & Sylvia in their prime, not to mention showing a stronger Canadian identity in numbers like "The Forty-Ninth Parallel" and "The South Saskatchewan River." Though the increase of overall twang is noticeable, what's best about this duo hasn't changed much -- Kacy Anderson's vocals are strong and stirring, subtly but powerfully underlining the tragedies of the blighted childhood in "Mom and Dad's Waltz #2" and a marriage gone to seed in "The Forty-Ninth Parallel" as well as the modest hope of "Intervention" and the fond memories of "The Sweet Orchestra Sound." And Calyton Linthicum's guitar work is splendid, not flashy but with the right amount of texture and snap to make his solos count. Jeff Tweedy, who produced 2017's The Siren's Song, was back at the controls for Carrying On, and he and engineer Tom Schick give this album a comfortable, lifelike sound that flatters the artists but doesn't intrude on their performances. As vocalists and songwriters, Kacy & Clayton have proven to be as consistently satisfying and emotionally resonant as anyone in contemporary folk, and Carrying On finds them making their homeland very proud indeed.

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