Americana/country duo, The Marriage, examine love and relationships, from meeting to parting to recrimination to recovery.
Release Date: 2nd October 2020
Label: Independent release
Formats: CD / Stream
The Marriage is a new Americana/Country duo that comprises ex-AHAB member Dave Burn and Kirsten Adamson and Imagining Sunsets is their debut album. Recorded during lockdown, it’s a beautiful piece of work. The duo is evidently proud of it, so much so that since June, they’ve been drip-releasing each track as a single in its own right.
First of all, let’s deal with the obvious question. Dave and Kirsten are NOT a married couple, but their choice of name for the duo is, nevertheless, highly appropriate. Firstly because the subject matter of every song on this album deals with some aspect of loving relationships – from meeting to contentment to parting, to recrimination and finally, to recovery. Secondly, the choice of name is spot on because every song on this excellent album features a heavenly union of two wonderful voices, together with subtle and sympathetic instrumentation. Every song is perfectly crafted and expertly performed and the whole thing amounts to a relaxed, enjoyable and fairly thought-provoking listening experience.
The pair are from (respectively) London and Edinburgh, but there are no clues to these origins in the music they make. Rather, you could be forgiven for assuming that they’re an Alabama couple, such are the similarities in their music to the likes of Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. The duo do most of the hard work and the album is dominated particularly by their wonderful harmony vocals with backing from their own acoustic and electric guitars. Added colour is subtly and sparingly provided by Fred Abbot on keyboards, Rob Heath on drums and, of particular note, Joe Harvey-Whyte on pedal steel.
As for the songs themselves, every one is a cracker. The album opens with Diamonds, a song which gives us an appetizing taste of the gentle guitar and harmony pleasures to come. It’s a song about a young couple making drunken pledges to each other and contains the wonderful line “Slipped on my sick, made promises…” (!) Our Heart is more of the same with lyrics this time that concern a lost and lapsed couple roaming the backstreets of their town and some simple but effective piano flourishes from Dave.
Are We Worse Or Better examines the predicament of a couple who feel right together, despite the dubious circumstances of their meeting and the clashes they endure whilst they are awake and sober – with Dave this time providing the embellishments on electric guitar. Toast is a slow(ish) call-and-answer duet with interesting lyrics that describe the comfort of finding fun in everyday domestic situations and which features some great interplay between the acoustic and electric guitar in its instrumental section, and Floating in Space is a dreamy number, reinforced by some excellent twangy guitar licks and a magnificent, soaring pedal steel contribution from Joe.
We stick with the pedal steel for Dreamers, a song with intriguing lyrics in which the end of a relationship is recognized but the participants are reluctant to make the break as evinced by the line “We were just dreamers then – why don’t we dream again?” True Anger is the album’s longest track but at a mere four minutes, that just emphasizes that this is an album of short, straight-to-the-point cuts, rather than one of agonizing epics. Finger-picked acoustic guitar and a plodding bass provide the backing to a story of love that goes bitter. The backing for Buddy is similarly stripped back and space is given to the glorious harmony vocals as they lament the desire of a jilted partner to bury the happy memories of the lapsed relationship.
Too Late To Cry About It Now builds splendidly from its introductory guitar strums to reach its soaring crescendo of (yet more) harmonies and beams of pedal steel – a fantastic song. We round off an excellent album with the raucous Box And Burn It, a song of hope that suggests that grief and self-pity can be passed over by putting our problems in a metaphorical box and then setting fire to them. It’s one of the albums most inspiring numbers and a great way to round off a thoroughly enjoyable collection of tunes.
Listen to Box and Burn It from the album here: