CARRIE ELKIN & DANNY SCHMIDT – For Keeps (Red House, RHR 278)

carrie elkinAlready well established individually, Elkin and Schmidt bring their personal and professional lives together, their October wedding preceded by their debut duo album. The writing evenly shared with five tracks each, alternating on lead vocals (though not always on their own material) while the other provides harmonies, the songs inevitably focus on respective perspectives on life and love, on friendship, communication, tough and tender times and, on the Schmidt sung opening twang pop ‘Two White Clouds’, metaphors of marriage and future family. Confirming a deep romantic streak, tender ballad ‘Kiss Me Now’ was actually his proposal song.

Sandwiched between and reminding why she’s often likened to Iris Dement, Elkin takes over for her own ‘Echo In The Hills’, a slow, percussion rumbling meditation on retaining a sense of self in the coming together of two individuals, while, penned by Schmidt, the gradual gathering ‘Company Of Friends’ has a warbling Emmylou air to its country hymnal affirmation of belief in everything from inspiration and procreation to ink on paper and that all hearts will mend.

Elsewhere, the uptempo, bluesy ‘Sky Picked Blue’ celebrates the irresistible force of love, a jangly ‘Took It Like A Man’ finds Elkin singing of placing trust in commitment, while, on ‘Swing From A Note’, Schmidt brings a waltzing folksy air to Elkin’s lines about how “trust is not something to which I’ve grown accustomed” and, striking a somewhat different chord, the aching ‘Longing Moves The Ocean’ finds her addressing the mourning process.

The album closes with ‘Girl In The Woods’ Colin Brooks providing dobro behind Elkin’s simple personal affirmation that “I’m not afraid of the world, with you by my side.” If the life they make together is as well tuned as the music, then this is indeed a marriage for keeps.

Mike Davies

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Artist websites: www.dannyschmidt.com & www.carrieelkin.com

Annie Keating releases new album For Keeps

Annie Keating For KeepsNew-York singer/songwriter Annie Keating’s fifth album, For Keeps is indeed a keeper. Beautifully crafted songs combined with musical hooks and punches knock the listener in the chest, making this album an instant classic. With refreshing honesty, grit and timelessness, Keating and her band of musical magic makers achieve a sound that is complex and simple, new and vintage … the first song gets its hooks in you and captivates throughout.

This Brooklyn-based songwriter knows how to write and deliver beautiful songs with a magical earthly rich voice and arrangement that transfixes … She has picked up a great (and well served) reputation over the course of her four previous albums, but on For Keeps Keating truly shines. No frills or posturing – her sultry voice cuts straight to the heart. On her fifth album release, she has arrived as an international songwriting tour de force.

Talent spotted by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris, Keating appeared live on his show in 2008 and 2011 and has gone on to perform at numerous leading national and international festivals including Take Root (Netherlands), the Glasgow Americana Festival (Scotland), the NJ Folk Festival, NXNE in Canada, NEMO and MEANY music fests and the Mountain Stage NewSong finals.

Keating has performed on the bill with the likes of John Hiatt, Dan Bern, Natalia Zuckerman, Bon Iver, Hot Club of Cowtown, Anne Heaton, Boris McCutcheon and Shannon McNally.

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See artist web link for tour dates: www.anniekeating.com