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Austin & Elliott - 13 Songs Plus

13 Songs Plus

Austin & Elliott

Available from eFolk Music.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.

You get way more than you pay for when you pick up Austin & Elliott's 13 Songs Plus. Twenty-one songs, to be exact, all acoustic folk with occasional intriguing influences, and only three of those in the two-minute-plus range. Indeed if you want to listen in one sitting, set aside a chunk of time and unplug the phone. It will be worth it.

Chris Elliott and Lisa Austin, voices pleasant enough on their own, weld vocals in the style of Seattle's legendary Reilly & Maloney and Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer during their heydays, voices which lay on top of one another rather than blend. The resulting tone is a bit sharper, but very pleasing to the ear. On a few of the songs, in fact, it makes all the difference. Austin's harmonies on Hard Not to Fall In Love, for instance, probably shouldn't have as much of an impact as they do, but they just do. The voices spar very well on Dance On the Killing Floor, make When I Go a light rockin' favorite, push Rocking the Cradle into the dark, and then lift you out of your depths with the fifties-style rocker/ballad Truth That Hurts, harmonies straight out of the duos of that magical era.

Elliott's touch as songwriter is a large part of this equation. He borrows from many eras of folk—traditional, English, modern—and twists them into originals of real worth. The aforementioned When I Go and Truth That Hurts stand out along with the troubling Blackwater Dam, All God's Children (straight out of the Richie Havens playbook), the very traditional Caroline, the melodic and downright beautiful Still Waters (big thumbs up on harmonies here) and the heartwrenching Wish It Would Rain. The guy can write, for sure, and he writes specifically for Austin & Elliott. After hearing this, I am convinced that that is a very good thing.

As for production, this is a sparse as it gets. Guitar and two voices straight into a mic or two. Whereas some might want more, I find it quite refreshing. The songs do not really need more. In fact, had I seen them live and picked up this disc, I'm sure I would be thrilled as their performances surely reflect the music presented here.

After all that, you would think I would not have a complaint, but I do. There are only 20 tracks here (It's a trick! They just wanted to see if I was paying attention!), Starlet With a Needle having somehow faded into the ether. Wait. After checking the CD out on my computer player as opposed to my old diesel powered CD player, it IS there. Go figure. Well, even if it were true, this would hardly qualify as a complaint. These guys give you more than your money's worth. Way more.

Track List:

  • Dance On the Killing Floor
  • When I go
  • O Death
  • Too Tired
  • Everything Looks Like a Hammer
  • Flycatcher
  • Liza Jane
  • Rocking the Cradle
  • Truth That Hurts
  • Blackwater Dam
  • Snow Globe
  • All God's Children
  • The Evil Genius Lost His Touch
  • Caroline
  • Still Waters
  • Starlet With a Needle
  • Wish It Would Rain
  • Hearts of Stone in a City of Glass
  • Hard Not To Fall in Love
  • One More Time
  • How Far Time Flies
All songs written and © by Chris Elliott/BMI except "Flycatcher", written by Lisa Austin.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

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

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