Les Shelleys

Les Shelleys

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Les Shelleys' self-titled debut album is a love letter to old-fashioned songs and performances. Little more than Tom Brosseau and Angela Correa's voices and guitars give these covers of folk favorites flesh and bone -- they’re not deceptively simple, they’re just plain simple, celebrating the intimacy of two people making music together. In the best possible way, Les Shelleys sounds like someone accidentally recorded Brosseau and Correa as they sang and played guitar after dinner for a spell; the dog barking in the background on “Billy” just enhances the musique vérité feel of the whole project. The duo’s guitar playing is simple and percussion comes from just handclaps and finger snaps, so the focus is on Les Shelleys' voices. Their harmonies on “World Is Waiting for Sunrise” and “John Garfield” are quiet joys, and while at times it’s tempting to want more instrumentation surrounding them, as on “Green Door” and “Hatty Carol,” the album’s spareness is what makes it both timeless and unique. It takes a while to slow down to the speed of what Correa and Brosseau do, but when that happens, the album reveals just how soothing it is, particularly on the inviting calypso lilt of Lord Invader's “Rum and Coca Cola,” which recalls the earnest simplicity of the early-‘60s folk revival. Brosseau and Correa each take solo vocal turns, with her more robust instrument faring slightly better on “The Band Played On” than his sweet but fragile take on “Cocktails for Two.” They’re best together, though, especially on songs like “Pastures of Plenty” and “Deep Purple” that allow their voices and guitars to dance over the melodies. A Sunday morning of an album, Les Shelleys does these traditional tunes proud, making them a nice introduction -- or a welcome return -- for listeners.

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