Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer would be impressive as solo artists, but together they have become the up-and-coming duo to keep an eye on. Drum Hat Buddha follows the critically acclaimed Tanglewood Tree, featuring the same dense, symbol-filled lyrics set to fairly straightforward arrangements. Multiple violins and a cello perfectly underpin "Disappearing Man," a quiet melody that evokes a new birth -- a coming of age -- with Grammer's lovely vocal carrying the weight of the old-world religious imagery. Carter, aided by Grammer's harmony, sings the magnetic "41 Thunderer," painting a tale of the old West in a few spare words. "Highway 80" is an upbeat country stomper in the same mold as "Hey Conductor" from Tanglewood Tree, while "236-6132" is a bouncy recollection of a lover's phone number. Most of these lyrics are very heavy, and their meaning isn't always obvious. "Love, the Magician" begins much like Townes Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley," only to blossom into a mystical story of runaway lovers. When the father finally believes he has cornered the lovers, a pair of lovebirds appear and fly away. All of these songs are supported by good instrumental work, with Grammer's violin adding atmospheric touches and Carter's guitar providing a tasteful acoustic backdrop. Overall, Drum Hat Buddha holds up well to Grammer and Carter's earlier work, though it is hard to match the quality of songs like "The Mountain" and "Walkin' Away From Caroline" from Tanglewood Tree. Fans will not get hung up over this. Instead, they'll concentrate on the great harmony, opaque lyrics, and acoustic sound they've come to expect from this exciting folk duo.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
feat: Claire Bard