The Watson Twins Create Pastoral Beauty With ‘Duo’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Whether you know them from their stunning backup roles with artists like Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket, or for their handful of gorgeous studio albums, The Watson Twins have long been a staple in Americana music. Chandra and Leigh Watson’s lush harmonies are the stuff of dreams, and on their latest record Duo, they are the most in sync they’ve ever been. Created entirely together, Duo is a pastoral beauty that easily enchants and bewitches across just eight tracks. The polish on their starry-eyed melodies and elegant arrangements is evidence of their years and years of experience as touring musicians.

Duo is more than a folk album. It is shimmery pop with a hint of a twang and just a little rock and roll. There is nothing too fanciful in the production of the record, and the focus remains on their angelic vocals, and how they employ them to tell emotional stories and to draw dazzling melodies. But their songwriting shines bright, leaving a sparkle in your eye and a longing in your heart. On “Blue Tonight”, they sisters deliver their version of an old-fashioned country song about a lingering heartbreak. “I am just a woman/This is just a song/Round a circle we’re repeating/But the ending’s just begun,” they sing.

On the standout “Down in the Valley”, they compose a love letter to California and all the yearning and sadness it contains. Their voices soar as they sing, “happy thoughts are hard to keep/Lonely nights are meant to be/Layin’ low/Down in the valley/Soft and slow/Thinkin’ back to Cali/Oh, this city of lost souls.” It is a song that has the power to make you weep, even as you smile to yourself and remember something that struck you with its beauty.

On the haunting “Call To You”, alongside swooning steel guitar, the twins duet with the deep voices of The Cactus Blossoms. And with “Hustle and Shake” they’ve crafted a stylish tribute to working hard and chasing your dreams, even when it doesn’t feel glamorous anymore. And in true Watson Twins fashion, they make it sound so damn pretty.  

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