Though we didn’t even know it, we have been waiting for the new collaboration record from Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer. It has been a wait because the duo began playing together more than five years ago, and have only just now decided to make an album. And it is a low key beauty that will sneak up on you in the cold, dark, end of January. Mockingbird Soul is a collection of stunning vocal harmonies and minimalistic arrangements that would be perfectly suited to an intimate live show.
There is a natural ease between DeMeyer and Kimbrough, perhaps because they have a longstanding friendship. A level of basic trust that elevates these songs to a level of familiarity and comfort. Their sound is warm and draws you in, and their voices fill all the right grooves for each other. DeMeyer has a sultry smoky tone that she keeps reigned in to match Kimbrough’s quieter one, and the pitch perfect blend is at its best on the title track “Mockingbird Soul.” This tune, like many on the record, is soulful and pared down. The focus is on the harmonies the two of them create, and not much more is needed.
“Until Then” is one of DeMeyer’s standouts on Mockingbird Soul, with Kimbrough falling back to let her strong, sturdy vocals shine. “October Song” takes the reverse approach, showcasing Kimbrough, with understated support from DeMeyer. These are two of the record’s best, too, offering up a sampling of the different styles of music on display throughout: a little bluegrass, traditional country and folk, soul, and blues. The Kimbrough-penned “I Can Hear Your Voice” has a classic pop melody a la The Beatles, and is Mockingbird Soul’s prettiest.
The best part of this album is that down to its bones it feels like a collaborative piece of work. Both artists had a strong identity here, but neither outdoes the other. These aren’t cheesy duets; they’re thought-out, well written songs created by two underrated masters of their craft.