Kelly Jones / Teddy Thompson

Little Windows

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While one might not guess it from listening to his work, to take him at his word Teddy Thompson's first great musical passions were rockabilly and vintage country music. Thompson paid homage to classic country weepers on his fine 2007 album, Upfront & Down Low, but he's also fond of '50s countrypolitan sounds that merged Nashville twang with upbeat pop. Thompson and fellow singer/songwriter Kelly Jones have teamed up to celebrate the bright melodies and perky production of the countrypolitan era on their 2016 album, Little Windows. Jones and Thompson wrote the bulk of the songs on Little Windows in collaboration with Bill DeMain. While the lyrics sometimes take a slightly cheeky modernist perspective, musically this is an accurate and charming tribute to '50s country-pop. And while Thompson's voice occasionally sounds a bit dour (and British) for these melodies, the unaffected sweetness of Jones' instrument is the perfect corrective. The two headliners harmonize together beautifully, and they sound like they're honestly having a ball on these sessions. Producer Mike Viola gets an upbeat and effective sound from the studio band (which includes frequent Elvis Costello collaborators Pete Thomas and Davey Faraghar). The ten tracks deal with the finer points of romantic relationships in bold but friendly style, and Jones and Thompson cherish pointing to well-loved clich├ęs as much as their own fresher insights. But they clearly understand their inspirations well enough to give them a flavor of their own. And even when they sing of broken hearts (as on "You Took My Future" and "I Thought That We Said Goodbye"), they do so with full hearts and musical intelligence. Little Windows clocks in at less than half an hour, which is certainly appropriate to the period that Jones and Thompson are honoring. But given how well they mine their influences and bring them into the present day, it's not hard to wish a second Little Windows will open soon.

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