Roots Hoots

by

comment

Sibling harmonies may be naturally sweeter, thanks to nature and nurture. Just ask anyone ever taken by the charms of the Everlys, the Louvins or the Stanleys. Amy Boone and Deborah Kelly, taking cues from those artists and other exponents of folk, bluegrass and old-time country, lend credence to that often misguided assumption on Half Mad Moon, a disc kept in limbo for six months thanks to legal hassles with a similarly named Los Angeles band.

The record, a punchy major-label debut produced by altrock knobs man John Croslin (Guided By Voices, Spoon), is well worth the wait. The band’s newfangled take on the high lonesome sound reverberates nicely through the world-weary cowboy hymn "No Sign of Water"; "Spit and Tears," a banjo-flecked saga of friendship and redemption; "Kansas," a period piece edged with fiddle; and the oompah rhythms of the title track.

Bassist Boone and acoustic guitarist Kelly, who left upstate New York for Austin a decade ago, seriously got the twang thing, but it ain’t exactly a ball and chain. "Things I Once Adored," a grabber of an opener, drives home its tale of bittersweet regret with a fierce backbeat, Rob Bernard’s distorted guitar jangle and the sisters’ tangy tangle of vocals. Jimmy Smith’s "Down the Line," one of only two covers, is a ferocious little cowpunker with attitude to burn. "Commercial Zone Blues" is a slow-grinding ballad about the pair’s former digs in a bohemian neighborhood behind the old Antone’s blues club. "Unholy Train" rides R&B rails – and "Finger the Pie," written and sung by Bernard, is pure power pop. And it’s tough to resist the pleasures of "Black Widow," the tongue-in-cheek tale of a stolen amplifier: "Tomorrow on my day off/I’m gonna get up and call all the pawn shops/Describing her distinguishing features/All the times I got shocked and I beat her/I still want her back." Sounds like a true story.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.