Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay
Before The World Was Made
A Boy, A Girl and a Dozen Gorgeous Loving Duets.
Brennen and Noel were busy promoting this album when I first saw them at SummerTyne 2014 but had completely sold-out their allocation two days previously; so I’ve waited until their return to town to finally grab me a copy; and the wait has well been worth it.
I’m a stickler for a strong opening track; as that is what should grab the listeners attention and I can attest to The Only Other Person In the Room being such an attention grabber. Don’t get me wrong, this aint Guns and Roses; this is two wonderfully matched voices, a couple of guitars, a drum and a bass plus a lap-steel making some darn sweet music.
The pace picks up slightly on the next track Breaking Up Is Easy and immediately afterwards Breaking Up and Making Up Again, but the bittersweet theme continues in earnest with another pair of heartbreakers from the couple’s pens.
Gurf Morlix’s sensitive production brings out the best in both voices, with Brennen’s sweet tones being more than a match for McKay’s rich baritone on songs like Salty Kisses in the Sand and even more so on the gorgeous title track Before The World Was Made.
I have come to these songs the wrong way round; hearing them all played live before hearing the record; but I can’t put a cigarette paper between either version of Let’s Don’t Get Married which was a highlight of their recent performance at SummerTyne.
With Country Music like this it’s all too easy to compare and contrast with the Classic Duets of yore; but that would be unfair as Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay are obviously paying homage to that golden era but there is no way anyone could say songs like Soft Guitars or Please Reconsider are pastiches….they are timeless.
Highlights? Phew, that’s difficult, but the two stand out tracks at that afternoon concert stand out here too with the rinky-dinky Be My Ball and Chain slightly shading it above the Honky-Tonky Let’s Go To Lubbock on Vacation; but tomorrow I may disagree with myself.
But…..anyone who knows me or regularly reads these reviews will know I’m a sucker for a traditional Love Song so the Heavyweight Title goes to….Great Big Oldsmobile where the couple profess their undying love to each other wit Noel singing “you are a little old lady/you will be still just as beautiful/as the night we first met” before Brennen goes on to tell him she will ‘drive him around town in a Great Big Oldsmobile/when you are too old to drive” but my favourite stanzas come in the middle with Brennen smiling as she purrs “When I’m 92/I will still want to fool around/in the afternoon with you!” Come on guys; who doesn’t like a song as cool as this?
When this was first released I was inundated with Country Duet albums in the style of George and Tammy or Johnny and June, with some being better than others but apart from My Darling Clementine all have disappeared off the radar; giving Brennen and Leigh an open playing field to take the market by storm!
First released 2013