McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Time for Leaving

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Former Loud Family keyboardist Alison Faith Levy and Camper van Beethoven bassist and Monks of Doom leader Victor Krummenacher have been quietly playing together on the West Coast since the late ‘00s, exploring various shadings of Americana, roots rock, and Laurel Canyon folk. On this delicious 2009 debut, the duo takes an almost cinematic approach evoking the rough Old West drama that inspired their name. The two singer/songwriters switch off on lead vocals, and achieve a fine equilibrium between Krummenacher's gritty song-spiel style and Levy's expressively supple and versatile pipes. This is evidenced especially on the stomping blues-rock kiss-off "Fare Thee Well," which balances Levy's spirited wail with a laid-back (but no less menacing) take from Krummenacher. Levy gets brassy on the cabaret romp "Playground" (with tasteful support from clarinetist-to-the-stars Ralph Carney) and showcases her rich Patsy Cline alto on the catchy honky-tonk ditty "Your Magic Fingers." She demonstrates both passion and restraint on the soulful "Come Back Home to Me," the kind of soaring country-rock ballad that used to grace Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt albums regularly. The moody, sparse "Forgiveness" recalls Shoot Out the Lights-era Richard & Linda Thompson, aided by an atmospheric setting that bears traces of producer Bruce Kaphan's (the Waybacks, American Music Club) haunting film score work. While fans of Levy and Krummenacher's previous bands will find an immediate affinity for the songs (and appreciate guest turns by Jonathan Segel and Greg Lisher), anyone with a taste for intelligent acoustic pop will savor the goodness, and lament that, at 37 minutes, the "time for leaving" comes all too soon.

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