Some great original tunes from the versatile Seattle duo - *****
I've said before I'm not strongly into vocal music, but when a singer communicates a real personality and believability - even if not having a perfect voice - then I'm a fan. Mark Brown sounds to me like a cross between Bob Dorough and Dan Hicks, two of my favorites. But then comes the first ballad track and I hear a quite different voice. Turns out the two often share writing the music and lyrics, sometimes do it individually, and they take turns at performing the vocals. Paul has a distinctive voice of his own too. The two of them have been performing together in the Seattle area for a quarter of a century. And if I read the liner notes correctly, they both have professional careers outside of music, but they have a superb artistic collaboration going.
Two of the dozen songs are familiar jazz instrumentals to which they have done lyrics a la Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan - Dizzy's Groovin? High and John Lewis? Afternoon in Paris. Thumbin? a Ride originated with a kalimba which Paul picked up in an African shop. He wrote some lyrics and then challenged Mark to come up with a tune using just the five notes of the thumb piano. Goodbye Old Friend and It's You are both tributes to friends and very touching. The brief a capella We?re So Lucky was stimulated by Paul first hearing Ladysmith Black Mambazo and wanting to emulate that sound in our culture. Mark is also a fine trumpet player, and their sextet of sidemen is used sparingly but tastefully, making the delightful vocals the spotlit attraction here. I look forward to enjoying an evening of this fine duo in person sometime soon in either Seattle or Portland.