The history of country music is steeped in the duet
is a lot of precedence that has been set, and the new record from
Austin, Texas' Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh continues
in that tradition beautifully. Most closely resembling the golden
duets of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Dayton
and Leigh's voices intertwine perfectly, meshing smoothly but
with enough disparity to create tons of character. The songs on
Holdin' Our Own range from honky-tonk waltzin' songs like
the brilliant "Brand New Heartache" to more straightforward
Tejano-styled scoot country like the album opener "Let's
Run Away," with its chicken-picked guitars and Tornadoes-style
rhythms. "Holdin' Our Own" moves into more modern territory,
but contains enough mandolin and earnest heartbreak to remain
true to the country creed. The hilarious "Two Step Program"
recalls mid-70's swing country, with some amazing steel guitar
and a jumping rhythm that lays a perfect backdrop for some amazingly
twangy telecaster, along with perfect harmonies. Dayton's voice
drips with resonance, evoking memories of the aforementioned Jones
as he lifts out lines like "This barroom is the meeting place
for broken hearts anonymous/ easy does it, one dance at a time
is what they say to us/ one dance is too many and a thousand ain't
enough/ well listen darlin', it's been rough," while Leigh's
vocals stray a bit toward the June Carter Cash side of
things. The duo cut into Hawaiian swing on the jazz-tinged "We
Hung The Moon" before kicking into the guitar-heavy Jerry
Reed-ish "Somethin' To Brag About," a true highlight
of the record. As you might imagine, there is some serious Johnny/June
vibe on the cover of "Long-Legged Guitar Pickin' Man,"
along with some guitar with the perfect balance of phase and twang,
just like Luther would have provided in the golden years.
Jumping to the end of the record, the duo turns out one of the
finest honky-tonk swing duets in decades with the lovely "Everything
Looks Good (On The Outside)." This song is a shining example
of the fact that country music - REAL country music - is still
alive and kicking, just not on the mainstream radio stations.
Dayton's voice is resonant with just the right hint of twang while
Leigh's voice is clear and occasionally growly, making for a perfect
juxtaposition of textures. The songs are first rate, the vocals
are simply beautiful, and the guitar playing swings, twangs, slides,
and double-stops perfectly the entire album. This is an instant
classic, and must-hear listening for any fan of country music.
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