Here at Strangers Almanac, Jason and I frequently pen columns that spotlight our favorite singer-songwriters, artists who long ago carved out a distinct place in our hearts and who have continued to live with us – in us – for years, decades even. We write about memories of road tripping cross-country to catch our umpteenth live show or of falling in love with the latest installment of an already gigantic and classic catalogue. Simply put: we go waaaay back.
Yet, this is not one of those columns.
Only six months ago or so did I discover The Dutchess & the Duke. My relationship with the indie-folk duo is fresh and raw, and I lack the sort of personal experience with this group that I’ve been able to relay about other musicians over the past two years via this column. However, that in no way signifies that the music of Seattle’s Jesse Loritz and Kimberly Morrison feels unfamiliar or strange. In fact, the reason I fell hard and fast for The Dutchess & the Duke is because right away the songs fit me perfectly like an old pair of blue jeans. They wrapped me up like an old childhood blanket. They filled me up like a delicious morning cup of coffee.
On “New Shadow,” Loritz and Morrison harmonize: “You’ve met someone you love now keep them warm/ Help them, keep them sheltered from the storm…” It’s like that exactly. The Dutchess & the Duke make music that feels like the welcome return of a long, lost friend.
Actually, “Living this Life” from the 2009 release, Sunset/Sunrise, was the first D&D song I ever heard. I had an instant emotional reaction to its somber tone, its rustic sound, its melancholy vocals before my brain could remotely register what the lyrics were, let alone what they meant. Later, I read the song described as an “existential power ballad.” When I asked Loritz about that depiction, he simply stated, “I don’t know. It’s a rough song. They all are.”
And that’s also part of the appeal: ubiquitous angst for one and all. No pretending, no sugarcoating, just the real deal Holyfield.
For any musician to reserve a carved out spot in my heart, they’ve got to speak to me. The Dutchess & the Duke waste no time doing just that. Ten years from now, I have no doubt that I could revisit the duo in a Strangers Almanac column and detail the chase I’ve willingly endured to bottle just an ounce or two of the D&D magic.
Ten years from now, I have no doubt that I could go waaaay back.
He (Loritz) said it: “Every day is the beginning and end of our lives. Sometimes it manifests into more extreme situations, but those things are with us all the time. I deal with this idea by constantly looking at the choices I am making in my life and writing songs. We deal with this idea by singing and playing those songs a lot.”