[29 July 2009]
The duo of Clint Asay and Amy Bezunartea (also known as Clint Michigan) plays the kind of soft-spoken folk songs that make an immediate impact and a leave a lasting impression. As already noted, the duo can capture the attention of a crowd with its plucking banjos and sweet vocal harmonies. A near magical set at NYC’s Living Room during 2007’s CMJ Fest was perfectly tuned for the room’s comforting sound and coffeehouse atmosphere. Hawthorne to Hennepin is the result of the band’s succeeding tour and layering of some additional instrumentation to its ire-side banjo folk, and the album triumphs in its own subtle way. Under the guise of mandolins and plinking pianos, tracks such as “Blue and Gold” and “Burnside” showcase the duo’s vocal harmonies as Asay and Bezunartea contemplate some vaguely romantic notions of the journey that has brought them to Brooklyn by way of Oregonian towns and AA meetings. “Act Naturally” is a playful take on stardom and the seeming banality of it all. Throughout the record the pair’s strength seems to be the same one that strikes you in the live setting: Its voices, brought together by happenstance, are simply perfect together.