Beautiful Harmonies in Search of Better Songs
The angle Misner & Smith put forward is this: they can conjure some damn fine harmonies. True, this folksy duo has a bit more to be proud of than just that, but the main selling point is certainly their balanced harmonizing. The value of those talents is made clear whenever one of them strikes out on a solo vocal, as Misner does on “Lost & Found”, which sounds only so-so at first, but then takes off once his voice is joined by Smith’s aching harmony. Gender differences aside, Simon & Garfunkel comparisons are in order.
Musically, the duo has all the right ingredients, with their inclination towards ‘60s folksiness and clean, subtle harmony, but the songwriting gives them more than a little trouble. The bet placed here on Misner’s songwriting doesn’t quite pay off; the lyrics are clunky and ineffective, buckling under the attention we’re forced to pay to them, especially when it comes to delicate subjects like the home-front war story “15 Months”. Bright spots include “Tamalpais”, an ode to the Marin County peak, and the jazzy shuffle “Calling”.
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