Last year, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper issued the wryly titled You Don't Have to Like Them Both (here) and garnered a Top 10 spot on Americana / Folk DJ charts and a #1 on the Freeform American Roots slate, deservedly so. This CD will take them much further, pure evidence that some musicians mature with surprising speed. That, of course, is not to say that *Like Them Both* lacked for anything—hell, the chart action alone proves that—but that Master Sessions is as if from another band with 30 more years of road and studio work.
The disc is often surprisingly Lightfootish from the initial cut (Wait a Minute) forward, both in tone and temperament, but there's plenty of influence and originality otherwise besides. And while Gordon had his Red Shea on pedal steel, Brace & Cooper have their Lloyd Green, whose input veneers into the songs the sunlight and tears of the mid-West like a fresh coat of polish on an aging front-porch rail (you might want to catch Cooper's Lloyd Green release [here] while you're at it). However, Mike Auldridge kicks in an extraordinarily subtle but extremely expressive dobro throughout, fleshing Green's keening wail further into the meadows and arid sod. Then, of course there's Jen Gunderman (ex-Jayhawks) and her mello-fied keyboards, often equally understated, filling out the environment as though a quiet susurration coming over the horizon.
The backbone of everything, though, is the dual guitars, writing, and singing of Brace and Cooper, and they helm their ship straight towards terra marvelously cognita. Everything about Master Sessions is indeed rock solid, which is sometimes a dubious term to apply to a work so folk based, what with the mode's allegiances to the Everyman and human flaws, but beauty is beauty, and when it's so flawlessly executed, well…
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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