Kacy & Clayton

Siren's Song

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It's been quite some time since North America has produced a folk duo as engaging as Kacy & Clayton, and after releasing two subtle but beautifully accomplished albums -- 2013's The Day Is Past and Gone and 2015's Strange Country -- the pair has made it a hat trick with 2017's The Siren's Song. While the third album doesn't break a great deal of new ground for Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum, it certainly consolidates their strengths as both songwriters and performers, and the fusion of '70s-style folk and high lonesome country accents is every bit as sublime as it was on Strange Country (and Linthicum's pedal steel work is even stronger on this set). The proportions are a bit different here, with the country side of their formula sounding more prominent than before, but the sweet and elegant sadness of Anderson's vocals remains a wondrous thing, and her harmonies with Linthicum are rich and almost heartbreaking on sadder numbers like "A Certain Kind of Memory." While eight of these nine songs are Kacy & Clayton originals (the closer, "Go and Leave Me," is a new arrangement of an old folk tune), they sound as if they could have been drawn from a stack of dusty old LPs that have been on the shelf since 1971. They evoke their chosen era with a master's touch and without sounding entirely beholden to their influences. Not unlike Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Kacy & Clayton evoke a sound from the past, but use it as a jumping-off point to make music that is full of freshness and life, and that's just what they accomplish on The Siren's Song. Jeff Tweedy produced the set, and he and engineer Tom Schick give these recordings a clear, warm sound that's an ideal match for the music. The Siren's Song is perhaps a bit too gentle in its attack to make Kacy & Clayton stars, but anyone with an interest in modern-day folk music will be happily mesmerized by it.

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