After writing, singing, jamming and performing together for over two decades, Craig Anderson and Paul Connelly, The Cognac Twins, are here with their self-titled debut album. The ridiculously catchy ‘Pretending’ opens the disc, as its combination of mandolin and ukulele runs, handclaps, solid lead vocals and spot-on harmonies set the tone for the rest of the record, creating some distinctly Scottish Americana.
Along with the opener, there are two further gems on side 1; the dark and anthemic ‘Bricks and Mortar’ and ‘Don’t Forget Your Sons’. The latter of these is particularly good and perfectly combines soul, swagger and some wonderfully effective slide guitar. Musically and lyrically there are parts of this song that feel as if they could be a contemporary take on something written in the American south 100 years ago, that is until you hear lyrics like “Climb into the seat of my Escort MK 3…”
Side 2 is every bit as strong, appearing to follow a formula of slow, stripped-back numbers which give way to hand clap-led, up-tempo tracks. The strongest song of the entire collection, the simply titled ‘January’, fits the former category, with its universally relatable reminder that when “January comes…you’re one year older” so “be thankful, be honest, be truthful”…and “be kind…”
While it is a definite lament, it’s not bleak – in fact, it’s actually wonderfully hopeful and incredibly optimistic and every word comes across as very sincere…which, for some reason, inevitably makes the song feel that little bit sadder.
If ‘January’ caused you to shed a wee tear or two, however, the upbeat follow up, ‘Rita’, will square you up in no time. Coming in at under two minutes, it is the shortest song on the album, and that’s my only real gripe with the Cognac Twins’ debut; at well under half an hour, it is just too short. However, two arguments spring to mind: “Quality over quantity” and “Leave ‘em wanting more”…and that’s exactly how I’m feeling. Touché.
Although this wasn’t a duo I was previously aware of prior to hearing this record, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it, and the more I like it, the more excited I get for the Twins’ next release…but, eh… don’t keep us waiting another two decades for it lads!
Christopher James Sheridan
Artists’ website: www.facebook.com/Thecognactwins
‘Lucky Lad’ – official: