Ben Sollee / Daniel Martin Moore

Dear Companion

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Dear Companion Review

by Andrew Leahey

Performed by two Kentucky natives and produced by Southern rock crusader Jim James, Dear Companion is a warm, acoustic tribute to the American South. “Whether days are bright or sorrow-filled, we’ll find our comfort in these hills,” Daniel Martin Moore sings during the final track, wrapping up an 11-song set list filled with Appalachian mountain music and earthy singer/songwriter fare. Having already released an album of his own, Moore may be a more established performer than Ben Sollee, a classically trained cellist best-known for his stint with the multi-cultural folk band Sparrow Quartet. The two take strength in numbers, however, and Dear Companion explores everything from minimalist folk (“Flyrock Blues,” a Moore solo piece that could double as a Nick Drake B-side) to acoustic/orchestral combos (Sollee’s “Sweet Marie,” whose sweeping bridge makes room for violin, tuba, and clarinet). Jim James also plays an active role throughout, often going beyond his production duties by singing harmonies or playing a number of string instruments. Most of the resulting songs are too smooth and stately to recall a bygone era -- Dear Companion is more Avett Brothers than Stanley Brothers, perhaps -- but the album still pays homage to the musicians’ home turf, often with gorgeous results.

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