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The Watson Twins: DUO Review

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The Watson Twins: <i>DUO</i> Review

There’s something to be said for the understated eloquence of sibling artists. There’s the synchronicity of assured harmonies, the convergence of a dual mindset and a combined experience that assures a singular, unified direction. When those siblings are twins, that confluence is intrinsically bound to an even greater degree

Chandra and Leigh Watson, otherwise known as the Watson Twins, exemplify that indelible bond. On the aptly named DUO, the pair are clearly inseparable in both song and sentiment. Each of the offerings are sung by the two in tandem, and with the supple sway of pedal steel underscoring the lilting melodies, the calm conveyed in songs such as “Cry Baby” and “Lucky Star” finds them executing the material with an even keel.

Even so, DUO offers more than passivity or pastiche. Songs such as “Hustle and Shake,” “Blue Tonight” and “Rolling Thunder” deliver the goods with an enthusiasm that belies any sort of delicacy. “Gonna hustle, give me that shake,” they demand, clearly insistent on elevating whatever subdued scenario their folkish noir might otherwise suggest

Indeed, by virtue of their seamless connection, the Watsons coax an alluring sound from their softly spun melodies, They manage to do with subtlety, by emphasizing a few words in a simple refrain (“Blue Tonight”), binding their voices to a shimmering guitar figure (“Playing Hearts”) or merely angling some insistence (“Call To You,” a song given a darker edge thanks to the vocal contributions of special guests The Cactus Blossoms). Emotions collide; a hint of circumspect here, all effusive engagement there, a lithe and lilting cascade overall. Credit is due the accompanying musicians—Carl Broemel and Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket, singer Vanessa Carlton and Willie Nelson’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael, among them—who manage to keep the arrangements subtle but assured.

Notably, DUO is only eight songs long, a compact offering that still manages to feel amply stocked and vibrantly infused despite any limited duration. Quality not quantity defines its merits, and each song is so engaging, there’s enough conviction to ensure a lasting impression.

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