This is pretty much solid folk, though it has the expected infusions of other roots. In that, the CD is bracing and palpable, a rest from all the more fusiony affairs lately, as excellent as the latter are. The songs are mostly covers plus a couple originals and one co-written between Peter Cooper and Todd Snider. Brace and Cooper both play guitar and sing, backed by a quartet sliding in between them.
Much of You Don't Have to Like Them Both is laid back, with The Man Who Loves to Hate perhaps one of the coolest cuts, mellowing out with pedal but still retaining a sense of grandeur in the theatric build-up alonside some great lyrics about cynicism:
Sometimes it's hard to love
…which—hell, I don't know—sounds like a prime candidate for a PhD in Critics & Pundits 101A! But then, crits and musicians don't have exactly the most accommodating relationship, do they? Nonetheless, the song is deceptively grand, reaching up to a pinnacle before resolving to the denouement, something with all the markings of a classic.
Denali, Not McKinley gets in sly political licks—after all, ya gotta fly through Wasilla to get to McKinley, and what ditz do we recently know who came from Wasilla (via her mega-rich family, the Heaths)? And, um, we should've named the mountain after a male ditz prez-dawg who never even visited the damn thing and was a rotter besides, right? Well, that kinda criticism is what folk music is all about. Then there's Kristofferson's Just the Other Side of Nowhere, a dusty lament about missed chances and personal remonstrance, a frown-in-your-beer tune that's nonetheless goin' back to a home that never should've been left in the first place…and you know these guys are feelin' it.
You Don't Have to Like Them Both steps back firmly into older folk days with reminders of Peter & Gordon, Chad & Jeremy, the Kingston Trio, Seals & Crofts, Brewer & Shipley, a little Emitt Rhodes, solo and duet troubadours from another time when the genre was still being worked out in its mid-20th century essences, a time that should not be left behind.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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