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Austin & Elliott - Truth That Hurts

Truth That Hurts

Austin & Elliott

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.
(frank.gutch.jr@gmail.com)

Not too long after packing 21 songs onto their first CD, 13 Songs Plus, it is no wonder that Chris Elliott and Lisa Austin cover four of those on this five-song EP. Why do it? For one thing, the previous CD, while hardly lo-fi, was very basic—two voices and guitar. From a folk standpoint it worked beautifully, but Chris Elliott's songwriting occasionally broke out of the folk mold, keying more on pop hooks and melody. The duo must have wondered what they could do with those more mainstream tunes. When producer Lorne Entress showed interest, the opportunity to record in a band setting was too good to pass up. Entress gathered Austin and Elliott plus himself, bassist Paul Kochanski and guitarist Duke Levine and headed into Thomas Eaton Recording and Busterland Recording to lay down a handful of tracks, thus Truth That Hurts.

That the title track was chosen as EP title is no surprise. There is something very fifties in the writing—the light shuffling 6/8 rhythm and the updated and less R&B Mickey & Sylvia approach, maybe—which is very pleasant to the ear. And while the bare-bones version is nice, this one, enhanced by both the percussion and production, is taken well out of the folk and into the pop genre.

The new arrangement of Too Tired borrows from mid-sixties Brit rockers, having a Gerry & the Pacemakers twelve string hook which is unmistakable. The solid beat drives everything to its logical conclusion. And the end? It's straight out of early Liverpool.

A step toward Americana follows, Liza Jane adding mandola and a bit of dobro to the mix. It works, but the real magic here is the song itself. A strange view of some sort of unrequited love (which the man accepts wholly), it sings of a family-not-a-family while the melody and tempo belie the dysfunction which must surely exist. I mean, it's a tragic head-nodder, if that makes sense.

The total surprise here is the one track not borrowed from 13 Songs PlusWhat a Woman Knows". Call it folk with attitude or acoustic metal, it has a Black Sabbath "Iron Man" chord progression beneath Lisa Austin's spot-on vocals. Austin and Elliott unplugged? Maybe. But it sure grows on you.

Everyone has a song which reflects him- or herself and Hard Not To Fall In Love is a classic example. A beautiful ballad, one cannot listen to it without thinking that Austin and Elliott are singing it from the heart and for each other, even though that may be far from the truth. Such is the magic of music, though, and this one plucks heart- as well as guitar strings.

Like 13 Songs Plus, Truth That Hurts shows great promise. It shows that Austin & Elliott are no one-genre musicians. It shows heart. It shows progress. One of the things some people love most about music is watching musicians morph into better musicians on an ongoing basis. This could be the beginning of a long ride. It will be fun watching (and listening).

Track List:

  • Truth That Hurts
  • Too Tired
  • Liza Jane
  • What a Woman Knows
  • Hard Not To Fall In Love
All songs composed and © by Chris Elliott
except "What a Woman Knows", composed and © by Chris Elliott and Lisa Austin.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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