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Album Review
She's the Dutchess, He's The Duke

She's the Dutchess, He's The Duke
by The Dutchess & The Duke

Hardly Art

Review Date
16th April 09
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

Signed to Sub Pop imprint / micro-label Hardly Art, it is easy to make comparisons of The Dutchess & The Duke to label mates Arthur and Yu. But Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz, the duo that make up the folk rock group, are two musicians suited in a charming ease with a nascent raggedy country sound which comes across more honest than the releases of many of their Hardly Art cohorts.

She’s The Dutchess, He's The Duke is filled to the brim with riveting sounds of a bluesy folk music past, drawing widespread comparisons from reviewers to early Bob Dylan.

The Seattle natives offer a weathered sound and simple lyrics to evoke an experience to mark the victories and defeats of love, loss and everyday existence. It would seem that much of the dust has been wiped clean from the notion that folk music comprises of downtrodden figures making lo-fi porch music in America’s more remote states. Here, Morrison and Lortz accompany their cathartic and coarse sound with static harmonies describing their gloomy yet hopeful take on the minutiae of intimate life. The droning vocal relationship between the grimy coarse Duke and the savoury-sweet wist of the Dutchess is by far the most prominent feature of the album, as their voices travel together through the rollicking tracks.

Both “Reservoir Park” and “Mary” – the tracks from their 7” vinyl single from last year – feature as outstanding songs on the album. The apparent production values on this album are charmingly simple. Shying away from the over-produced world of digitalized precision, there is an evident level of restraint and grit-worn guile in the almost organic sound of the ten-track release.

“Armageddon Song” and “I Am Just A Ghost” are also standout tracks on the album, as the two concluding tracks set about weaving sounds that differ each other yet ably display the range of the band’s sensibilities. The rife comparisons to folk rock greats are in many ways valid - the rolling chords throughout the album are evident of this but the track “Back to Me” particularly evokes Dylan with its taunting riffs.

Also, make sure to watch the music video for “Mary” online – it is a wonderfully portrayed piece of creative genius. And if you needed one more reason to take a chance and listen to The Dutchess & the Duke, note that much-hyped Sub Pop signed Fleet Foxes chose them to accompany them on an 18-date American summer tour.

Roll up the sleeves of your checked shirt and make the effort to listen to this record.

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